I completely agree with what you are saying! Brands are an invaluable asset, and can be traded as such. For instance, the power of 'word of mouth' is undeniable, once someone recommends a business to a friend or family member, the recipient of that recommendation is miles more likely to trade with that business. Begin building your brand image from day 1, get your logos and style in check, you can always re-brand at a later date! But get your initial image out there for the world to see, don't slack on it!
A solid brand is so imporant. Instead of a generic product you need to enter in the buyers mindset with your product or service. That is a lot easier now with the likes of social media. Years ago I had to do this all without those tools. Its a lot easier now.
Better planning, when we started we had to act fast and improvise a lot. I'd slow it down and focus rather than go in all guns ablazing. I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing and I would be more knowledgable and better than poor old naive me.