Do you run a business or manage a brand? This differentiation is critical to success. While it’s a nice idea that the quality of product or service provided by a company should be enough to ensure a profitable venture, branding is key to gaining – and more importantly, retaining – the attention of an audience.
Like everything worth doing in business, however, branding costs money. As a start-up or an SME, budgets may be tight in the earliest days of trading. This guide will explain how much you should expect to spend on branding and how to make your money stretch as far as possible.
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Why spend money on branding?
There are many unhelpful myths in the business world about branding. To this day, some people still believe that branding is a luxury only necessary to major, international conglomerates – that all an SME needs is a logo and website to flourish. This could not be further from the truth.
|The return on investment in branding can run into many multiples|
|Branding is an investment that can pay off thousands of times over. Take Apple – the world’s biggest brand – as an example. Apple’s market value is believed to run into trillions of dollars.|
That did not happen by accident or due to the quality of products. We do not have a dog in Apple vs Samsung fight, but opinion remains split on which company creates superior hardware. Apple remains more valuable as a corporate entity, though, simply because its branding is omnipresent and on-point.
Now, we appreciate that may sound contradictory. We just claimed that branding is not just the domain of major businesses, then used the most prominent brand name in the world as an example.
Here are some other reasons to spend on branding as an SME, though:
- Branding shares your core values with consumers – something near and dear to the hearts of younger generations. This will inspire brand loyalty
- Branding provides your business with a clear direction of travel. All efforts will be geared toward one singular aim
- Branding can help you attract talent and employees. Once your business becomes an established name, people will want to be affiliated with it
- Branding will reduce the expense and effort of your marketing campaigns. Once people know you are, it’s easier to remain at the forefront of their thinking
- Branding makes it simpler to ride out tough times in the marketplace. All businesses experience peaks and drops, but recognisable names tend to bounce back faster
As you’ll see, branding is a necessity. You’ll find a complete guide to building your corporate brand and identity here, but first, you’ll likely want an idea of how much this is all going to cost.
How much does branding cost?
The expenses involved in branding can be divided into the following.
|Type of branding||Average price|
|Creating a branding strategy||You and your team will need to draw up this strategy based on your targets and share it with a professional. This will costnothing but your time, but it’s a critical step in the process, so take the time to create a lengthy brief and strategy. Ideally, this should be both a long-form business bible and a short document similar to a one-page marketing plan|
|Third-party branding consultation||A branding professional will review your strategy and offer advice and insight on implementing it. Prices vary wildly between freelancers and agencies, based on experience and expertise. There are pros and cons to each approach beyond the financial, so be sure to choose the ideal partner|
|Designing a logo and colour scheme||Your business needs a logo and a visual design, such as a colour scheme and preferred typeface. This could be free if you have an in-house design team capable of this, or up to £1,000 ($1,300) if you seek external help – usually less. Do not try to cut corners and save money on this step, as if you make an error on your branding, you’ll eventually need to undergo a lengthy and expensive rebranding exercise|
|Designing and creating a website||Whether running a local greengrocer or an international agency, your business will need a website. How complex this site needs to be will depend upon the nature of your business. It could be free to build the website if you have an in-house design team capable of this, up to £2,500 ($3,400) if you hire a professional web designer. As with the above, take the hit on getting this right first-time|
|Maintaining a website||Expect to pay up to £25 ($30) a month for web hosting and an annual sum to retain your domain name. You’ll also need to conduct regular website maintenance and audits, which may also come with a price tag if you need external help|
|Marketing your brand||5% of your income should be assigned to a marketing budget to promote and grow your brand. Marketing is a slightly different discipline, though, and you’ll find plenty of articles throughout this site that discuss the elements of this practice|
In summary, your branding strategy could cost as little as £1,000 to get started, or it could be as much as ten times this. Always seek professional advice, as superior branding is not just nice to have. It’s indispensable if you want your business to grow.
Branding cost for small business – where should a start-up spend their money first?
If you’ve recently set up a new business venture, you’ll have no shortage of decisions to make about where to spend your branding budget. Start with the non-negotiables, such as:
- Brand positioning, potentially with support from a third-party professional
- Logo design
- Visual identity (such as a colour scheme and preferred typeface)
- Website and social media profiles
- Any branded stationery you may require (business cards, letterhead paper, brochures, etc.)
From this point on, it’s all about your marketing. Spend this money to establish your brand, and then focus your financial attention on building awareness for what you have to offer.
Low-cost branding strategies
If you’re a new business, money will invariably be tight. Thankfully, there are a handful of ways to grow your brand awareness without breaking the bank – even if you will not receive payment for your efforts. These include:
- Write guests posts for high-authority websites, positioning your brand as a font of knowledge and expertise
- Host webinars or apply to give a Ted Talk. Again, these will attract attention to your brand and build trust in your knowledge
- Scour the internet for dead links, pitching web admins with backlinks from your own website that can replace them
- Comment regularly on social media profiles and blogs, helping interested parties to learn and remember your brand name
- Befriend influencers and master the art of the hashtag, ensuring that your brand name is never far from the lips of social media movers and shakers
We are always suspicious of anybody that offers work in exchange for “exposure” over financial compensation. When building a brand, though, the thought process is a little different. Think of some of these approaches as forms of inbound marketing. They’ll drive customers to your website and ensure that people think of you for future needs.
What percentage of marketing budget should be spent on branding?
We have previously explained that 5% of your business income should be dedicated to a marketing budget. Marketing is a broad church, though. You’ll need to divide up your pot of money into a variety of sub-sections, from SEO to branding.
|What about ongoing costs of branding?|
|The good news is that, once you have made your initial outlay in branding expenses, these are comparatively minimal ongoing. This is simply because your ongoing marketing efforts will include your corporate branding, increasing your company profile in the hearts and minds of consumers.|
If you decide to undergo a complete rebrand – which would involve changing your business name, colour scheme, logo, website and more – the costs will pile up. You’ll essentially need to start again from scratch. That’s a considerable risk, though. Something as simple as changing a logo can plunge your audience into confusion.
Branding agency cost – what do the bigger agencies charge?
Every branding agency will have a unique rate card. It stands to reason that a bigger agency will charge more. They will have a larger staffing team to pull from and likely boast more experience. You’re unlikely to get much change from around £75 ($100) per hour.
Smaller agencies may be cheaper but be offering low costs to entice custom as they are new to the trade and are trying to make their mark. That does not need to be a bad thing – if you’re one of very few clients, you’ll be treated as a priority. Sometimes, though, there is no substitute for experience.
When it comes to branding, though, you often get what you pay for. If you’d like to discuss your needs with Creative.onl and receive a free, no-strings quote, feel free to get in touch.
Branding package cost – is it worth paying for an ongoing branding package?
Branding packages divide opinion. In many ways, we can compare them to high-end clothing. In some instances, an off-the-shelf suit or dress can look and feel stunning while also fitting like a glove. Only a bespoke and tailored approach to attire will do in other cases.
Only you know which of these applies to your business. Will a series of set processes and services help grow your business reputation and spread the word about your brand? Or do you work in a particularly challenging niche that merits a personal touch?
If the former applies, and you trust your branding agency of choice, an ongoing branding package may be a great way to remain in the thoughts of your audience while also saving money. If not, do not waste your money – pick and choose what you need from your agency and get them to earn their money.
The cost of branding depends on how many external professionals you’ll need to bring in for support. If you have an in-house design team that can handle logos, corporate colour schemes and web design, you can keep your third-party costs down. If you need an external agency to help with all aspects of branding, though, expect to pay several thousands of pounds or dollars over time.
Branding costs in the UK vary depending on which agency you approach for support. You will likely need to spend at least £1,500 ($2,000) for a basic package that provides strategic insight. You may also need to bring in additional support to design and create a company identity and website if you do not have an in-house creative team to provide these services.
Branding packages are available at various price points. As you may expect, the costlier packages will offer more bells and whistles. Price points tend to start at around £1,500 ($2,000) and rise to up to £65,000 ($90,000). The latter packages tend to be the sole reserve of significant international corporations.
Every branding agency will have its own rate card, so ask around. Chemistry with your business, while understanding your target audience and what you are trying to achieve, is arguably more important than cost. Expect to pay around £75 ($100) per hour for agency branding services, though – possibly more, depending on experience.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what is considered a fair price for branding. If you’re looking for support from an agency, shop around and compare different rate cards. Do not be blinded by price alone, though. The most expensive agency may not be the best fit for your business, but equally, if a price point looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Major businesses and large companies spend a fortune on their branding. This is a necessity as the more prominent a brand becomes, the harder it needs to work to remain at the forefront of consumer thinking. Apple, the biggest brand in the world, spends billions each year on maintaining this position – but still turns enough profit to dwarf this investment, ensuring that branding practices remain cost-effective.