• Gayle Carpenter

How much does branding cost?

The two top questions we usually get asked are “How much does branding cost and what do I get?". So let’s try and answer them for you.


Much depends on what type of business you are and what exactly you need, as no two branding projects are the same. Here we’ll look at what’s involved in branding your business, the types of services agencies offer and explain how the process works.


Then we will look to provide some cost breakdowns.



What is branding?


The first misconception is that a brand is just a logo. Yes, your logo is the identifying mark for your business, and usually the first point of reference. However, a strong brand should run through your business, from the way you present yourself visually, to how you communicate, the language you use, your beliefs, goals and more.


It’s how your customers come to recognise you, engage with you, and in turn, experience your business through everything that you do.


So firstly you need to Identify your customers, understand the benefits of your business, define your mission and your story, and then, you will be able to successfully position your brand and create a strong brand identity. Read more about brand positioning here


What will branding do for my business?


Branding plays a pivotal role in the success of any business. After all, look at some of the most recognised businesses in the world, they all have a brand-first approach:

  1. Google

  2. Apple

  3. Amazon

  4. Red Bull

  5. Uber


They all have a distinct and recognisable brand, from their brand identity, to the way they communicate, to their brand story and brand vision, to the products/services they sell.

Branding is an important feature of any business and all businesses should consider it as a vital part of their marketing strategy. Look at branding as an investment, not an expenditure.


When starting up, a lot of businesses will try to save money and try a DIY approach. Would you design and build your own house? Or would you hire an architect and builder to do it for you? Branding is a skill and a professional service, and should be treated as such too.


Your brand strategy and brand identity are vital to your company’s success. Why chance it, when you could hire a professional to execute it properly?


What tends to happen is that the companies that have branded professionally from an early stage in their life, go on to realise that their initial investment into their brand has paid dividends in the long run, by rewarding them better customers and returns.


Here’s a final thought… If you had a choice of two companies to use, and one had a consistent and professional brand identity, and the other not, who would you use? Easy decision right?


So that’s our branding recap. Let’s move on to what’s involved...


What types of branding services do agencies offer?


Creative agencies normally offer one of two branding services, or both together:


1. Brand Strategy - thinking

Your brand strategy is the core of your brand and helps to enforce or reinforce your position in the market.


A brand strategy is a plan of action for your business, that helps to outline specific, long-term, goals as well as your brand mission, and brand story. Essentially, your brand strategy is ‘the smart thinking behind your brand’. Put simply the who, what, where, when, why, and how. But it's not always as simple as it sounds.


What do I get?

Depending on your business, you may require some interviews and strategy sessions to flesh out all or some of the the unanswered questions. Your agency should wrap this up into a neat brand on a page and/or report that you can use and share within the business.


Your brand strategy is essential as it will inform your…


2. Brand Identity - design

Your brand identity are the ‘words and pictures’ of your business’ brand.

Brand identity design includes everything from your logo, colour palette, typography, messaging and imagery – and then how these elements apply themselves to your website design, social channels and marketing materials.


Your brand identity builds recognition with your audiences and presents your brand strategy in a highly visual and engaging way, thereby planting your ‘story’ in their minds.

Consider Apple or Red Bull. Their stories are well told through their brand identity.


What do I get?

You will go through a concept stage where you will be presented 2-3 creative routes, then there would be a development stage of your chosen route where the agency will show you examples of how it will look across your key chosen deliverables.

Once your brand strategy and brand identity are all approved, your agency should then wrap this up in the form of a brand toolkit and guidelines.


The job of your brand guideline is to help people understand your business brand and vision. The toolkit should package all the assets such as logos, icons and templates in one place. This can be a huge job in itself so make sure you discuss the scope with your agency so you get it right for your branding project and business.


WATCH OUT! We also tend to provide all the original design files, some agencies won’t, so it is good to establish this up front to avoid awkward conversations later.


3. Brand Strategy + Brand Identity

Some businesses don’t need as much in one area as they do in the other, and that’s fine. Your chosen agency should be able to guide you as to what you need and what works for your budget.


For example, if you run a single coffee shop then brand strategy may be less important than brand identity. This is because you’re going to grow through the strength of your product, and brand recognition, than through huge advertising and marketing campaigns. However, if you run a global coffee chain, then both areas of the branding spectrum are going to be needed.


Which services you require all depends on your business type, goals, and vision.


Read our post Brand Strategy vs Brand Identity for more information.


So, to help with the costs, ask yourself…


What is your project scope?


There are three important questions to ask when determining the scope of your branding project.

  1. What branding elements will your agency be working on?

  2. Where are you in your business’ lifecycle?

  3. How big is your business?

By answering these, you can give your agency a better overview of the scope of your project, and in turn they can give you a better estimate for the work.

1. What will your agency be working on?

Are they working on brand strategy, brand identity, or both together? If you’re looking for the complete package including final production of marketing materials, content, website development and alike, you’ll end up investing more, but that’s not a bad thing as consistency is key.


When it comes to your brand identity, there is one element that can make a huge dent in the budget, and that’s your website. If you have a separate budget altogether for creating your website and online presence, that’s great! And sensible. But if not, work with your branding agency to decide what percentage of the overall budget should be allocated towards this. Then work together to create a really accurate specification list so you are clear on expectations from the outset.


In fact, it is important to understand all the final deliverables that you will need produced up front so you can create a clear plan, time table and have a better handle on costs.

2. Where are you in your Business’ Lifecycle?

If you’re an established business, yourself and your agency will have a lot to consider when it comes to your branding. You’ll have collected a lot of data, know a lot of customers, and know what works and doesn’t work in terms of your brand strategy and identity. The further along you are in your life as a business, the more of a legacy you have to consider when it comes to your company brand.

3. How big is your business?

Naturally bigger businesses will have lots of extra considerations, especially when dealing with physical branded items like products, uniforms, sites or transport etc, you’ll also incur a lot of additional costs in the rebranding process.


So the investment for 'big business' can be a lot higher than someone just starting out. However, a partial or total rebrand might be exactly what’s needed to grow your business.

By answering these initial questions around the scope of your branding project, you can give your branding agency a clearer picture about where you are as a company, and where you want to be.


Branding costs breakdown


Now, we’ve outlined a lot of the factors that effect the the costs of 'branding', and hopefully now you can see it’s not simply a case of “how much does branding cost?”


We collated some costs from friends and industry colleagues from around the UK.

Below focuses specifically on the price for design or consultancy rather than print or manufacture:

Low End High End

Brand Audit / Discovery £1500 £10,000+

Brand Strategy £1500 £50,000+

Brand Identity £2500 £50,000+

Brand Guidelines £1500 £20,000+

Business templates £1000 £10,000+

Packaging Design £1000 £10,000+

Website Design/Dev £2500 £100,000+ Company video 2000 £10,000+

SEO / Digital Marketing £500 p/mth £1000s mthly

Social Media £0 £1000s mthly

The low to high range is because you get a range of agencies and outputs.


As you look at some of these figures, resist the urge to cross out items and try and do them yourself. Businesses that start with do-it-yourself logos and presentation materials achieve false savings. They economise on the front end, but they also cost themselves the benefit of a strong, competitive, professional first impression.


If you’re looking to build a brand that can grow, and perhaps even sell in the future, you need to invest up front. Professional design and agencies will add value to your business. Choosing to invest in the right branding at the start, will serve you well for years to come.


But I don’t have enough budget, so what now?


The cost of branding can be quite expensive, but there are a few things you could look at:


1. Apply for funding

Some local authorities will contribute to branding and web related projects. So that’s always an option to explore.


2. Invest more of your own time

If you’re looking to shave substantial amounts off your branding budget, then invest your time up front. Start thinking about your brand vision, mission, story, and strategy – then go to your agency with something, rather than relying on them for all of the answers.

With regard to brand Identity design, this is best left to the creative professionals.


3. Barter

If you have an interesting product or service – you could always try bartering. This won’t be an easy route, as agencies often get pitched to a lot. Not all agencies will thank you for it.

If you truly believe your product or service could be a game changer for your branding agency – it might just be worth the ask but will need to be a win-win situation.


4. Offshore services

We can see why many people consider this option. Agencies in the USA and UK are naturally going to cost more than India, for example. However, before you rush to find an offshore branding agency, you have to evaluate the risk/reward of the situation. Going offshore is a huge decision. Sometimes culturally the work doesn’t translate and can be more damaging to your brand than you think. There is a reason why many big organisations are bringing other services back onshore too.


5. Flexible payments

Ask for some flexibility with staged payments. In fact, we would recommend you always ask this. That way you won’t commit all your funds up front. Most agencies will be happy to do this.

So finally, what is the cost of branding?


The total cost of branding will come down to what your business needs.

Essentially it’s agency time + your time + cost to create and produce new or adapted physical assets.


If you use the pricing table, then gather estimates from additional suppliers for creating or changing your physical assets, you should be able to get a rough idea of the total cost of branding your business.

Conclusion:

Branding can cost you anywhere from the low end of four figures – up to the mid-to-high five figures. It all depends on the size of the project, the size of your company, and the hours your branding agency will need to invest into the project. But investing into your brand is an investment into your future success.


People do, and always will, buy into brands and the brand experience. So can you afford not to do it?


We recommend to get in touch, talk to a professional, and get a proposal for your work. Remember that the more thoughts and information you can provide, the easier and more accurate that will be.


Granted there is a lot of information here, but there is also a lot to consider when you are thinking about branding. You can’t afford to get it wrong, so we hope this post has helped.



Gayle Carpenter, Creative Director Connect


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