Is "branding" fluff?

I often hear the expression in business circles that “branding is fluff”. It’s often said because you can’t easily pin down investment in brand strategy to a direct ROI.

I often laugh this off saying that, with my beard, I’m the king of fluff etc etc (I know I'm a funny guy). But. I’ve been thinking about it. And I don’t think I like branding being called fluffy. Is it really fluff?

"Fluff" noun Definition:"something inconsequential" Merriam-Webster Dictionary

No. I can't go along with that.

A brand is the meaning people attach to you and your offer. Branding is an attempt to manage that meaning. When done well it should enable your business and culture to be designed around big ideas which your team align behind and your customers want to connect to.