When is branding needed?

A lot of startups, also the ones here, start with a problem they solve by building a product. And that can and will go perfect for a period.

For the long term and deeper connection, a sort of branding, is important. Especially when there are more solutions in the operating field. I am looking for when that moment is there. When is a solid branding needed to save guard the future of a product or service or company?

Yes, I am asking this because I am into this. And want to know at what point I can earn money from it as a brand designer.
But also big time yes, because I believe in brands that have a good story to tell and do so.

I've always thought of branding as a day 0 activity. Even when building the MVP I'm deciding on tone, terminology and styles that are going to resonate with my target market.

Usually, at this stage, there isn't a lot of money to spare for consults but it might be a great opportunity for info-products to help founders improve their brand decisions at this stage.

Do you make it very explicitly, by drawing and writing it all out. Or is it a feeling that you have in you inner self that you are reflecting to the product? And so, all things you make, have the same origin and the same feeling to them?

Yep, I write it up. I start with personas which I create off the back of the potential customer interviews I've done. Then use those personas to think about colours, copy and design choices that might resonate with those personas or invoke certain feelings ie. blue = trust, green = growth etc. - I don't overdo it, but I'll at least have 1-3 pages. I'd love something like a cheat sheet to help with this process.

I would say it's the other way around. For all my products I first started building a brand (albeit passively by just posting blogs and on social media) and only after noticing interest/visitors/following/requests/emails/dm's I started thinking about making products (mostly books, but I also offered services in the past) I could sell to this audience and other interested people.

I would find it really hard to first build and then later working on the branding.

Not really sure if this answers your question.

It sure does does help getting a feeling of what others think of it. And it totally makes sense in the starting phase of a product.

I think your product's positioning should be determined at first. If your positioning is clear to the users, your product(or organization) will be recognized as a brand.

Thanks for the input. Having the positioning clear is a very important aspect of branding. That we the users can count on the product.
Do you also look for a proper positioning to attract possible users? By crafting a story, having a persona in mind to tell tat story too?