How important is branding for early stage startups?
Within this question, there is some interesting discussion on how a brand can evolve based on everything you do - e.g. your name, website, online interactions, approach to doing business. Within that question, Balsamiq are held up as an example of this, though Peldi documents on his blog how one of this first tasks was to contact branding consultants.
But is branding something we should be explicitly putting resources and diverting real cash-money into at the earliest stage? (I am talking branding explicitly here, rather than good design which is of course, a given.) Is it worth bringing in experts to help with this?
I'm a big believer in the power of brand generally, but not sure how important that is for the startup or small business.