Well it all depends on what you mean by branding, and it means different things to different people. I think what’s starting to fade is the idea of branding as something that is done by the magic wands of expert marketing guys, admen and brand consultants. These guys all have their role, but “brands” are just bits of shorthand we all get to use to describe ideas. Ideas we have about companies, churches, politicians blah blah blah.
Anytime any of us engage with, spit on, rage against or purport to fall in love with, a brand, we’re doing a bit of “branding”. If our own voice has credibility and bandwidth, we might have more influence on other people’s thoughts about the brand. If we talk hot air, we probably don’t.
A lot of smart-alec advertising and fancy logo designs may have been quite powerful in the past. I think they’re becoming less powerful now. When brand experts issue pronouncements like “Kelloggs is synonymous with health and vitality” they may think they’re doing some big branding. My hunch is that, lacking credibility, they’re not doing as much as they think.