Wanted to continue this stale debate, eh? ;-)
Ok, tell your arguments to Stanford Daily Press or the list of Google's strategic business partners that still sell links by the boatload.
Sorry, I missed the massive-fall-out, Google-banned-top-name-brand-sites-for-selling-links threads...
Have you seen them?
The proof of my argument is that we are still having THIS argument over a year and a half after I said not to believe it the first time...
I won't even rehash my legal arguments ...
(which apparently scared AL and/or Google's attys so much he stopped posting here after I presented him with their illegality) :)
As far as "branding".
Seriously, any sites that plan on "branding" would:
A: Own the all the TLD's of their sites... So that's not a valid argument
B: Should spend more time actually branding and less time sending visitors/PR to other sites for cash
C: Should have a SEO smart enough to set-up several "brands"/sites to fall back on if Google decides to place any type of penalty for absolutely no reason other than their SE is flawed.
D. I can think of many more, but "branding"/sustainability is a red herring to the argument to begin with.