Yes, very similar. As you probably already know, "brand" refers to a mark burned into something or someone. Ranchers used to brand their cattle with a certain symbol to mark ownership, and criminals were once branded as a permanent mark of their misdeed. So being branded a nerd has a stronger connotation than just being called one.
To "brand" you as something is like signing you in a particular group as branding you a nerd they make you one of the nerds. Calling you one is perhaps just for teasing.
"As one who loves studying hard, I would rather love to be called one of the intelligents(nerds)."