No, brands are not dead yet. The really thick consumers who don't get out much may still be swayed by a brand name in their buying decisions.
Old and legendary brands, like Bugatti, are revived and are branded onto products that lack the historical continuity that would have earned them this brand. New fantasy brands, that mean nothing, are being introduced and "positioned" by the hundreds in the hope of triggering a buying spree among the tragically hip. But the worst thing is that there is also massive brand slaughtering going on among the old and well-established brands, ironically by the same people who want to leverage these brands to generate more sales.
It happens in the computer hardware industry. Take Plextor, manufacturer of top-of-the-line, best-ever DVD recorders. What you have actually been buying based on this brand image could very well have been a TEAC or a BenQ with a Plextor badge slapped on. Not bad drives, but no Plextors. The once legendary name of Cisco now appears on consumer products next to their former brand Linksys. Many different notebook brands are stickered onto identical products.
Only a few Swiss watch makers still design and manufacture complete watches, a majority of the great brands, like Omega, uses ETA movements. These are very good, but is an Omega with an ETA movement still an Omega watch or is just the case an Omega?
A Subaru with a Saab badge; front-wheel drive, overweight, Fiat-based diesel cars being called Alfa Romeos; Daewoos suddenly transforming into Chevrolets; pimped Ford Mondeos called Jaguar; Porsche building diesel-powered garden sheds using Volkswagen parts... Many cars seem to be an amalgamate of randomly sourced components with a "brand" slapped on, in a feeble attempt to suggest the emotion, continuity, quality, and engineering culture the brand once stood for.
Some people know these things, and knowledge spreads. You can't fool everybody forever. Using a brand as a magical extra, slapped on run-of-the-mill products, is a sure way of killing a brand for good, even if you are still making some of the good stuff.
No, brands aren't dead yet, but everything is being done to kill them for short term profit. Once a consumer realises he can't rely on a brand name, and has to research who are actually manufacturing his future purchase, and what its quality is, that brand name will be dead (and so it should be).