I started as a product designer and finally here selling strategies & results-based design. The organic entity called branding is constantly growing and changing. Right now it is leaning more towards Persona, Face and Ethics.
So, what is modern Branding? A straightforward answer would be, the gut or inside feeling you have about something or someone. The emotion that you feel and the connection you have with the said thing, person or group of people.
Some might argue that it is a strategic business solution or system. Cold and definite, Branding offers visible, understandable, relevant and believable facts & information. Allowing people to submerge themselves in its presence without doubt & worry.
I currently see branding as the emotional support needed to have something with you. My apple phone, I like and I close my ears and eyes to all the things android. It is like having a person you want to marry. I want to marry her because of the things she has and the things she does to show her love for me. For my clients, branding is an investment made early to save cost in marketing, easier staff management and an ever so interesting character that you can keep levelling up allowing you to explore more interesting areas and getting better loot.