Whitey - 10:55 pm on Apr 17, 2013 (gmt 0)
They look at value add, etc. Faster, better, better UI, content, etc.
There are 100's, if not 1000,s of viewers coming to these forums and nobody has categorically claimed that they have applied the above on their sites and outranked a brand consistently across a majority of terms. Either we have a lack of participation, it hasn't happened and/or Google set the bar too high.
Not one of the "so called" 200+ ranking signals, which get's applied after relevance would seem to favour small/medium sites over the "brand signals".
I've heard commentary that typically small/medium sites have used aggressive SEO tactics and tricks over too many years, have not faced up to the required changes brought about by Penguin/Panda, and have not had the resources to compete following the downward shift in traffic. And that's why small/medium sites are where they are. In Google's defence, is that last statement a fair reflection of the situation?