In short, Yes, of course brands matter.
But here’s why,
Brands are important to those who produce goods and services and to those who consume them. In this new age of mass production and economic development, society is pushing commoditization of goods and services. This makes it so goods and services become more and more similar in form and function, as quality climbs to relatively high levels, then the selection can be determined largely on the basis of price.
Branding is the bulwark against commoditization. Take razors for example. What is it, really, but metal blades attached to a handle? Yet gross margins on branded razors are very large. Branding supports these margins as it works to differentiate one razor from another and to create some meaningful distinction in the mind of the consumer.
On top of that, brands have proven to be really well-suited as platforms for communication. Well-crafted and professionally designed, brands (with language, logo, messaging, colors, and other brand guidelines) can amplify and focus marketing communications. This means more bang for the metaphorical buck.
There is also research to suggest that brands are a very efficient way for consumers to organize information and remember it. Just think of the easy associations you make with well known brands like McDonalds, Disney and Starbucks.
Why are people willing to pay more for branded products than for unbranded products?
Ever wonder why people are seem to be willing to pay more for a branded product, when they can get the exact same product as a generic brand? The answer to this has to do with consumer tastes and perceived quality. Consumers tend to feel that a brand name product is of higher quality than a product that does not have a brand. If consumers believe that the good is of high quality, they will pay more for it than if they think it is of low quality. This is where branding comes in. Creating and publicizing a brand tends to create the perception of quality among consumers. When they perceive this, they will pay more for the good.
Yes, of course brands matter.