Why do you think that quality may not apply well to the majority of your smaller clients. You really don't understand what branding is if you think that.
Brand is quality of service, quality of product, quality in whatever you do. Brand image, and brand recognition isn't just reserved for companies like Google or other successful ones.
I can't think of one example where a large corporation started out that way... they were all like the majority of your smaller clients at one time but set themselves apart with quality of something and brand trust grew from meek beginnings.
Try and look at it this way... a single testimonial, a single excellent review, a single customer saying "man that guy gave excellent service" to a single friend (or word of mouth), these are all examples of branding at the core or the beginning.
What you choose to do what that beginning defines how your company grows... in saying that a company that believes they are not able to brand is a problem.
WebmasterWorld didn't start with all of us here, and didn't start with all the forums it has today, and today it is the most used forum on the Internet.
The most recognizable brand (in forums), and brand trust in webmastering.