I've watched rich, older business owners commoditize design (successfully and unsuccessfully) for years. In fact, I've literally been told: "Business is buying something for one price and selling it for more. Period. I don't need a flashy website or logo to do that."
At the same time, I've watched startups get $1B+ valuations and attribute it to being ‘design-first.’ Slack and AirBnb come to mind. Their teams can look you in the face and say "we're successful because of design."
So what does this mean?
To me it means design needs to be part of every business's MVP strategy. Despite assumptions about your industry, branding and design have the potential to be equally as important as your product itself, the go to market strategy and your pricing decisions.
Some companies will find that design really isn't important to their success. Most, however, will find that it's a valuable asset- the first thing every potential customer subconsciously judges their whole business on.
Either way, treat your brand as an important component of your new business idea. If you have any doubts about design's importance, get some data before you ignore it. It could save your startup.