Branding gives your product or business a voice, or significance. I believe it is vital for a business to create a brand that has a sense of personality, similar to how people have personalities. Many consumers purchase with the brand in mind, since the brand has a proven track record for excellence or quality. The beginning stages would be quite tough to get through, but once you establish a reputation for your brand, people will become aware of it.
When I think of branding, the first things that come to mind are logos, slogans, business name, stationary, etc.
PS: I help businesses in my local area with branding and promotional material, so this thread will be quite useful for me, if there is more input shared. - Thank you!