A seed stage company can get by without company branding efforts for a while but not without knowledge of customer and market.
A clear sense of your product positioning and visual identity, though, is important from the get go. This is not exactly branding per se bit more strong product marketing.
If you are starting out with an idea in a competitive category, you will likely want to think more about your company brand and differentiation. That said, a company can get by without company branding efforts for a while.
I'm advising with a stage A company that didn't really address traditional branding efforts until competition heated up in its category and brand differentiation became a priority. Prior to that, focus was on customer acquisition and testing of optimizing messaging for performance.
I've also been at startups where I built complete brand frameworks and visual identity from the start, but in these situations we had strong creative as early employees/ founders and didn't have extra expenses.
In either situation, realize that before you have product market fit your brand positioning and category will almost always change and branding will go through many iterations.