...[brand name in title]..any real positive benefit rankings-wise?
I've been attempting to build a "brand" for about 18 months and I would share an observation as to why I believe there is a ranking benefit.
If your site has content that encourages repeat-visits, then the more users see results with your brand in, the more they will include your brand in their search term. My top 5 referring phrases (4-500 uniques daily) now *all* include - or are - my brand name (domain name = brand name btw).
In general I have seen gradual ranking increases across the site. I can't be sure how much impact this has but my gut feel is that it does have some effect. All of what I do is in-content/on-page stuff.