tedster - 4:42 pm on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)
I hear you - but that's still an edit to the algorithm and not a hand edit to an individual SERP.
Also, from what I see, it's more than multinationals that are considered brands - although I can appreciate that users would respond well to them in the SERPs. Even a niche player can build a "brand" that Google recognizes.
Are users doing navigational searches for your site? That's one sign of a brand. Google may also be using unlinked mentions and even offline references, possibly RSS feeds, email newsletter, and on and on. And IMO, anyone who is working for web traffic, even a niche player, should be working to build their brand.