claaarky - 6:59 pm on Nov 13, 2012 (gmt 0)
I think this whole brand thing is a massive red herring.
I agree quality is the issue and should be the foundation. Defining quality is another thing. My view is if you focus ruthlessly on satisfying every visitor Google sends you and make sure you deliver for them in a more efficient way than the big sites, a better quality site will emerge as a result. Imagine if every visitor arriving via Google finds that your site was the perfect match for their query - how much would Google LOVE that kind of site, and people would love it as well (which means links, likes, tweets, word of mouth referrals, the works).
I think the sites we see as brands are best at doing that, either because they established themselves on that basis which resulted in more traffic from Google, which made them a household name, or because they became a household name first and the strength of their name papers over the cracks in their site - people keep going despite the site being terrible which tells Google their site is quality (even though it's not really).