Here is a list of some applications of the exponential function.
1) The exponential mapping in Lie theory.
I put this first because my intuition tells me that this must be the most fundamental, or deep, way of thinking about the exponential function. I have often been misled by my intuition however, and the main reason I feel strongly about this is because of how fundamental I consider Lie theory to be.
2) Fourier Series
3) Roots of Unity
4) Gaussian Distribution
5) Boltzmann Distribution
There are certainly other applications, but it always kind of bothered me that I couldn't use symmetry methods to see how (all of) these applications are related. Is it possible that there is no way to do this, i.e. that it's just a happy accident that the exponential function has these applications and it is unrelated to any continuous symmetries?