An interesting topic at the IMR forums that definitely needs more discussing: Is Branding Important?
It's interesting because it is indeed a question that should never be asked. Brand is (in my estimation) the single most important aspect of marketing. Brand is the state of being where consumers feel familiar with you and trust you. That equals sales. It equals more than sales - it equals a higher profit margin because you can charge three times more than your un-branded competition.
When I walk into the local mall, there are several clothing stores right as I enter the mall. These stores are located in perfectly for large amounts of traffic. In SEO terms, they are at the top of the SERPs.
Thing is, I walk right by those stores. I can't even recall the name of those stores as I sit here trying to recall. I keep walking until I find a name I know - The Gap, Eddie Bauer, ETC.
The same principle applies to Internet marketing. If I do a search for dedicated servers, I may visit a few sites I've never heard of, but the conversion ratios just won't be there. I feel more at ease buying from a company I've heard of - ServerBeach, RackSpace, RackForce, ETC.
Search engine placement helps. But SEO by itself is often not enough. Brand plays a crucial role, whether you're at the mall or online.