Over the past 5 years, several studies have begun to uncover the links between the classical signal transduction pathways and the physical mechanisms that are used to sculpt branched tissues. These advances have been made, in part, thanks to innovations in live imaging and reporter animals. With modern research tools, our conceptual models of branching morphogenesis are rapidly evolving, and the differences in branching mechanisms between each organ are becoming increasingly apparent. Here, we highlight four branched epithelia that develop at different spatial scales, within different surrounding tissues and via divergent physical mechanisms. Each of these organs has evolved to employ unique branching strategies to achieve a specialized final architecture.