Branding Packages Suck! Here’s Why

Row of different tags used to represent branding packages

We often get asked what our branding packages look like, and how much they cost.

But, we don’t offer branding packages at Canny. We never have, and we never will.

Choosing your branding agency based on what is essentially a “branding menu” is a horrendous way to choose who you want to work on one of the most crucial elements of your business with.

Whether it’s a branding package, a brand identity package, a logo design package, or website package, design packages as a rule, tend to suck.

Here’s why:

Your business is not the same as everyone else’s.

So why would you want to choose a branding agency that will treat you like it is?

Branding packages try to squeeze you into the “best fit.” Which sounds great.

But wouldn’t the “best fit” be the one that’s built specifically for your business?

At Canny, we liken branding services, to suits.

Sure, you can get something “off the rail” at a high street supplier. And it’ll do the job.

But it’s not custom made.

An “off the rail” suit will never be the same fit or quality as if you went to Savile Row and had a suit made-to-measure.

Your business is unique. You deserve better than an “off the rail” solution.

Let’s take a look at some example branding packages from three other design agencies, and dissect what they’re offering.

We’ll keep the sites anonymous, because we don’t want to start a fire here! Just a friendly discussion.

Bronze, silver, and gold medals

Branding Package Provider: Number One

Site number one offer three tiers of branding package. You guessed it;

Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

Let’s dissect the top tier Gold branding package.

The Gold Branding Package:

The first thing to note, is that this branding package is listed out as a table, that on a laptop, cuts off half of the information.

So, straight out of the gate, there’s confusion.

Free consultation/questionnaire

This would be included for free anywhere you want. You have to talk about your brand/business/idea with your agency, or, you can’t work together.

It’s really that simple.

This isn’t a line item you can include in a branding package. This is standard practice.

4 x 30 minute Skype chats

This sounds to me like you’re limited to four calls of thirty minutes each over the course of the project.

But what if you have other questions? What if there are new things that emerge? You need to be able to pick up the phone and ask questions.

A limit being put on communication favours the design agency, not the client.

And that’s not right.

Laptop with Pinterest Moodboard

3 x mood board designs (to help you identify a theme)

We all carry out visual research. It’s part of the process.

Creating 3 mood boards seems excessive.

After a thorough initial meeting, your brand’s direction should be quite clear.

Logo design (4 concepts, unlimited revisions)

Everyone has a different way of working. At Canny, we offer a variety of concepts to our clients.

Putting a limit on concept seems very superficial.

If you’re defining the amount of concepts that are included, you need to define what a concept is.

I’ve seen it happen where a logo is created, with the logo mark on the left, and text right. And that’s concept one.

Then they change the colours and that’s concept two. Hardly fair.

Unlimited revisions are also another superficial inclusion.

How many revisions to your logo do you really need?

If your branding process is well-refined, you won’t need any revisions to your logo design.

And, imagine if you do need to revise your logo…

The company already have your money, by the time you ask for that 50th change, you’re going to be waiting a long time for the revision.

They’ll be sick to the back teeth of you.

To me, this sounds like this company don’t have their branding process defined properly.

They’re then using the lure of unlimited revisions as a selling point.

Mobile responsive website

All websites should be mobile friendly. And I thought we were talking about branding packages?

Does this include the build?

Move along.

24 of your blog posts uploaded over 1 year

Great. But will you have the time to create 24 blog posts?

Or are they creating them for you?

Alongside the website, these two items come in out of left-field.

Your digital marketing strategy needs fully planned out. Bundling them into a branding package doesn’t seem sensible!

Let’s focus on the branding/brand identity itself:

A6 promotional postcard design

Things like promotional postcards are nice to have. But do you need them right now?

Is an A6 postcard really what your business needs?

Why couldn’t this be A5, A7 etc? What happens when the postcard is created, and you need to change it before it goes to print?

Too many questions!

3 x social media banner design

Okay, this one I agree with.

Your design agency should be creating your social media avatars and headers. That way they’re kept in line with your brand.

And for the most part, your business should be on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. So 3 x social channels seems to be the right amount to include.

Pull up banner design

Like the postcard. Are these needed? Or are you just paying for something here because it’s part of a package?

Captain Picard Facepalm Meme

30 x Branded Memes

Just, why?

This branding package is getting more and more confusing as we go along.

It can’t decide whether it’s a branding package, website package, or digital marketing/social package.

Letterhead and Compliment Slip design

Standard inclusion. Standard inclusion.

Notepad design

Again, is it needed?

Desk pad OR Calendar design

Desk pads and calendar designs are a bit of a cop out.

For the most part, a desk pad design looks exactly like your letterheads but a little smaller.

And you don’t need a design agency to design a calendar. Unless, you’re going all out and having custom imagery/photos etc.

Business card design (up to 20 different names)

Again, a standard inclusion, and the line does have to be drawn with business cards somewhere.

20 seems like a solid number, but what happens if you only have 3 people in your company?

17 spaces go to waste.

Brand guidelines booklet covering your tone of voice, logo, colour and font references

Brand guidelines are a must have document.

I worry where they’re getting your tone of voice from, as that hasn’t been talked about anywhere else.

Tone of voice, brand mission, and brand vision, should all be included in your brand guidelines.

Yellow Blank Branding Collateral

1 x brand board to be used as inspiration for your brand

Sounds to me like this is another moodboard that you’ll never look at again.

Ongoing and continued email support

For how long? Do you need email support once the branded assets are handed over?

Seems like an inclusion for the sake of bulking up the package.

Flexible payments for 1-12 months

Great. That’s fair.

Pricing: £2,350

This branding package runs in at a cost £2350, which for what’s included, is cheap.

The cost of branding should be more than this. Especially when a website is included in the price.

I would worry that this company would have to be taking on too many clients to give your business the attention it needs.

As well as that, there are far too many questions for anyone to seriously consider buying this package.

Branding Package Provider: Number Two

Site number two offers branding packages in a different way. There’s the Full Branding Package, Mini Branding Packages, and, the Brand and Website Package.

The Full Branding Package

Let’s take a look inside the Full Branding Package.

One Primary Logo Design

How do they get to this point? There’s no Discovery Session, workshop, or brand audit to help get answers.

This sounds like they’re going to start putting out ideas and ideas and hoping one sticks.

While that may sound ideal, it doesn’t show a very structured approach to a branding process.

Two Complementary Variations

Does this mean horizontal or vertical logo designs? They should be included as standard anyway.

What else could this mean?

Additional concepts created? Who knows, but it’s not very clear!

Two Brand Patterns or Textures in a 8½” x 11″ 300dpi JPEG format.

Does your brand need a pattern? Does it need to be in this specific format?

This seems awfully restrictive and a very strange inclusion into a branding package.

Decorative Brand Mark or Graphic

This sounds like a duplicate of the logo, or something else completely superfluous that you might not even need.

That’s one key problem with branding packages, you’re often paying for things you don’t need.

Facebook Cover and Logo Profile Photo

Great. Everyone has a business Facebook page these days, but, what about the other social networks?

Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram all have completely different requirements.

You need styling for stories, templates for Instagram squares etc.

With social media being what it is today, Facebook alone is no longer enough.

Plus Three Brand Collateral Pieces

As well as the above, you get to pick three branded items from the list below;

  • One x Two-Sided Business Card
  • Single Side Resume + Cover Letter
  • Sticker Design (Circle or Square Option)
  • One x Two Sided Post Card Design
  • Gift Certificate Design
  • Single Page Media Kit

Are any of these branded marketing items important?

Sure, the business card will be useful.

But the rest, all depends on your business.

Pricing: Starts at $1400.00

The pricing is a little lower on this offering than the last, but it also appears to be a much lesser service.

That said, the first branding package option was full of things you don’t need, and this one focuses more on the things you do.

There’s still nothing tempting me to price Canny’s branding services this way!

Branding Package Provider: Number Three

And finally, let’s take a look at a company that actually have the right idea with their branding packages.

I’m still not advocating using packages to sell branding services, but, if I was going to sell branding packages at Canny, it would take a similar approach to this.

The company in question feature 5 branding packages;

  • Starter Package
  • Founder Package
  • Entrepreneuer Package
  • Hotshot Package
  • Tycoon Package

Now, just like the other providers, each of these packages builds upon the last.

Let’s take a brief look at the Tycoon package. I’m going to list out they offer through this package, and talk about the key points below.

The Tycoon Branding Package

  • Free Initial Telephone Conversation
  • Online Form Access and Ongoing Email Consultation
  • Weekly Telephone Consultation
  • Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Values Write-Up
  • Tone of Voice
  • Brand Story
  • Positioning, Strategy, and Rationale
  • Strapline Development
  • Logo Design and Brand Identity Design
  • Brand Guidelines
  • Image Library and Filter Enhancement
  • Photography Style Guide
  • Custom Graphics Set
  • Signature Pattern
  • Presentation Document Template
  • Powerpoint Slideshow Template
  • Website Design

You might be thinking “This looks like the last two branding packages we looked it.” – but it’s not.

Here’s why:

There Are No Stupid Restrictions

In the last package, it was “this, or this” when in reality, both designs would be quite similar to each other. So that didn’t seem right.

There’s also no silly size restrictions, or saying “you only get one name on a business card” type of shenanigans here.

It seems like this branding package actually puts it’s customers first. It doesn’t appear to be a “cash grab” – unlike the first two examples we looked at.

Branding Discovery Session

There’s an Emphasis on Exploration and Strategy

I like that early in the process, there’s an emphasis on learning about the client’s business.

When they mention access to online forms, they give their clients a whole host of forms to fill out, which helps them to frame and understand the business they’re going to be working with.

While I wouldn’t do it through forms, getting all of this information from your client is a must!

And this is the only branding package we’ve looked at that even mentions learning about the client’s business.

A Full Brand Identity is Created

Whereas the other packages offer a logo design and some other marketing assets. This team offer the full branding package.

They explore colour palettes, fonts, logo usage, and more.

Then, they wrap it all up in a brand guideline, which is an essential document when your business undergoes a brand or rebranding project!

Do I Disagree With Anything?

Yes – I do still think labelling something as a FREE Telephone Consultation, when in fact they’re paying you, is wrong. So I wouldn’t do that.

I still would never change Canny’s model to be focused on creating branding packages.

Essentially, this is the top tier package the company offer, and it costs £4350.

However, I’d argue that this level of service should be the baseline for all branding projects.

The price is fine, but every company needs all of the deliverables listed above.

It’s just that some people don’t realise it!

The Three Key Issues With Branding Packages

There are still issues with branding packages, which for me, doesn’t make them a viable option.

Here’s the deal:

Suits on Hangers in Closet

One Size Fits All Doesn’t Work

Anything labelled as “one size fits all” never actually fits. And, that’s the same with branding packages.

They’re trying to cater to everyone, and therefore, they often miss the mark.

Your branding project should come off the back of a custom proposal. Not from a website that offers a “branding menu” so to speak.

Take the time out of your day, meet with potential branding and design agencies, and get a proposal that focuses solely on your business.

Way Too Many Questions Go Unanswered and There Are Restrictions, Restrictions, Restrictions

Looking at a list of branding deliverables on a website gets the wheels turning in my head.

“What if this, what if that…” etc. And if you can’t get the answers there and then, and you have to email off to the company anyway – you may as well get a custom proposal anyway!

Then, they put in crazy restrictions. Sizing of patterns, number of named business cards they’ll create etc.

Unanswered questions and unfounded restrictions, in my opinion, make branding packages redundant.

You End Up Paying for Things You Don’t Need

Looking at Package One in particular, you end up paying for a lot of branded materials colthat you don’t actually need!

Do you really need a desk pad or calendar at this stage?

Or would it be more important to have a crystal clear understanding of what your brand is all about before that?

You can read our Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide, which will help you to analyse and understand the basics of your brand.

Then, take your notes to a professional agency and take it from there.

Say no to paying for things you don’t need!

Conclusion: Branding Packages Suck! Here’s Why

All in all, branding packages make it easy to see what you’re getting for your money.

But a good, professional design agency, will also make that easy for you! But, they’ll also focus on giving you the best advice and proposal for your specific requirements.

Branding packages often appear cheap, but when you want to break the mould, the cost of your branding project will start to mount up.

And you need to be free to do that. In the early stages of a branding project, not everyone knows the exact plan. Things change, people change.

You need the flexibility of a professional branding service.

The bottom line is this:

Branding packages suck. They work solely in the favour of the design agency, while making it look like they actually work for you.

Here’s how:

Let’s say the package includes 3 logo designs. Well, what happens if you don’t like any of them?

More money please. And so on, and so on.

A professional agency will have a defined branding process that guarantees good results.

Work with them, and really give your brand the best chance of success.

What do you think? Do branding packages work? Or, is working with a professional agency on a custom project a better fit? Let me know in the comments below!

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