The Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide
How Much Does Branding Cost?
You’re here because you want us to answer “how much does branding cost?”. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
From the cost of logo design, to the price of a new website, money and project budgets have been covered quite a few times already on the Canny blog.
But this time, we’re looking at the price of branding your business as we look to provide a branding cost estimate.
Later in the post, we’ll be providing a branding cost breakdown, which should be helpful when branding your business.
We’ll detail the types of branding services that agencies tend to offer, explain how the branding process works, and more.
If you’d like to see a video about the cost of branding, then we’ve got you covered:
But first, let’s take a look at…
What Branding Is and What It Can Do For Your Business
You’re here to find out how much branding costs in the UK and around the world. The chances are you know what brand is and what it can do for your business.
But just incase you need a quick refresher, we have two great articles about branding. One explores what branding is, the other looks at branding specifically for businesses.
But what can branding do for your business?
Your brand is a way to identify your business. It is how your customers recognise you, and in turn, experience your business.
A strong brand is more than a logo design and some pretty colours.
Your brand runs through your business, from the way you communicate, to the way you advertise, the language you use, the beliefs you instill in your staff, and more.
Our guide, The Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide, can help you unlock and understand your business brand.
In it, we take a look at; identifying your customers, defining your brand, the benefits of your business, your mission, your story, and finally, the visual brand identity.
Branding plays a pivotal role in the success of any business. Look at some of the biggest businesses in the world:
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 they sell.
Now that you’ve refreshed your branding knowledge, you’re here to find out about pricing, so…
What Types of Branding or Branding Services Do Agencies Offer?
Branding agencies normally offer one of two branding services, or they do both together. They are:
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Both Together
Let’s take a look at each of those in turn, and explore what each branding service covers.
Your brand strategy is the backbone 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 thinking behind your brand.”
It’s the who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Hubspot have a great article about brand strategy, but essentially, they say there are 7 key components to a successful brand strategy:
- Purpose: What is the purpose of your brand, and why you’re doing what you set out to do.
- Consistency: How will you remain consistent and “on brand” in your communication?
- Emotion: What emotional connection do you want to make with your target audience?
- Flexibility: How can your brand remain flexible and react to the marketplacE?
- Employee Involvement: How can you get your employees involved and invested in your brand vision?
- Loyalty: Is there an option for you to reward loyalty among your customers and staff?
- Competitive Awareness Who are your competitors, and what are you doing that’s different to them?
As you can see from this brief overview, brand strategy is a unique branding service in itself.
That’s why a lot of businesses prefer to partner with an agency to work through their brand strategy with them.
Your brand strategy should then be used as a basis for creating your…
Your brand identity is the visual element of your business’ brand.
Brand identity design includes everything from your logo and colour palette, through to your website design and marketing materials.
Typically, it’s your brand identity that will build recognition with your customers. It’s also the story telling device for your brand strategy.
Your brand’s identity should reflect your brand strategy and story. Your visual elements need to enhance and develop the story of your brand in the mind of your customer.
Let’s take a look at Voodoo Doughnut, who do a great job of story telling with their brand identity.
Voodoo Doughnut are, surprisingly, a doughnut brand based in North America.
Recently, they opened a new flagship store at Universal Studio’s Citywalk (Orlando, Florida.)
Even their location serves a purpose for their brand.
Universal Studios are famous for not only being a great theme park, but also for their super scary Halloween Horror Nights.
So, horror fans, on horror nights, see horror doughnuts. I’d imagine their sales will be through the roof!
Their name, Voodoo, lends itself well to the horror aesthetic. And, being a bit of a quirky brand name, they can get away with some whacky things.
They sell doughnuts topped with Fruit Loops, Captain Crunch, bacon, and more. And their doughnuts build on their brand aesthetic.
Just look at their Voodoo Doll doughnut! And never mind that third doughnut in!
On top of that, they also cater for weddings using a fantastically pink truck.
But more importantly, they also sell “a coffin full of doughnuts.”
Which, forall is a great gimmick, it goes so well with their brand. This isn’t just a “box of doughnuts” or a “doughnut party pack.”
This is a coffin. A wooden coffin. Full of doughnuts.
Voodoo Doughnut have thought about every element of their brand. From their shops through to their doughnuts, through to merchandise and more.
They have their brand identity nailed (pun intended.)
So… what does a typical brand identity project look like?
A typical brand identity project includes;
- Naming and messaging
- Logo Design
- Logo Design lock ups (horizontal and vertical versions)
- Business collateral (business cards, letterheads, etc)
- Sales presentation and marketing materials
- Trade show presence/environment
- Packaging design
We’ll expand on each of these brand items later in the post.
The design work for your brand identity should then be delivered in a range of different file formats.
When we deliver identity work, we tend to deliver a range of digital files (JPEG, PNG, etc) and print ready formats like a PDF.
Usually, we also hand over the original files to the client, so they have hard copies of their files in the original format.
You will find some agencies tend to work on both areas of branding.
These tend to be bigger agencies with bigger staff teams and higher profile clients. As such, they tend to charge a lot more.
Smaller agencies tend to provide one of the two services, whilst also looking into the other.
Some businesses don’t need as much in one area as they do in others.
If you run a small “mom and pop bakery” then brand strategy may be less important than brand identity.
This is because you’re going to grow through the strength of your products, and brand recognition, than through huge advertising and marketing campaigns.
However, if you run an airline, then both areas of the branding spectrum are going to be need covered.
First of all, you need to know where your brand sits in amongst your competitors, and second of all, your planes need to look fly! (See what I did there?)
Also, if you run an airline – drop us a line, we’d love to negotiate a holidays for branding sort of deal!
Which branding services you require all depends on your business type, goals, and vision.
Once you’ve had your brand strategy and brand identity nailed down, your agency should then wrap up their work in the form of branding guidelines.
Brand guidelines are your business’ “go-to-guide” when it comes to explaining your brand, or refreshing certain elements.
When you work with a different agency, or start to advertise on a different platform, its always a good idea to share your existing brand guidelines with them.
The job of your brand guideline is to help people understand your business brand and vision.
So, to help with the pricing, ask yourself…
What is the Project Scope?
There are three important questions to ask when determining the scope of your branding project.
- What branding elements will your agency be working on?
- Where are you in your business’ lifespan?
- 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.
What Branding Elements Will Your Agency Be Working On?
From the list above, what elements are you expecting your chosen branding agency to work on? Are they working on brand strategy, brand identity, or both together?
If you’re looking for the complete package, you’ll end up investing more, but that’s not a bad thing.
Branding should always be looked at as an investment into your business.
When it comes to your brand identity, there is one key element that can make a huge dent in your branding budget, and that’s your website.
If you have a separate budget altogether for creating your website and online presence, that’s great!
But if not, you need to work with your branding agency to decide what percentage of the overall budget should be allocated towards your website.
If you can, try to list out the things you want help with from your branding agency. That way, you can have a clear picture when looking for people to work with.
It’s no good going to an agency with a heavy focus on brand strategy, if what you really need is a great looking brand identity and exhibition stand!
Again, you always need to consider both, but you might want to assign more of your total budget in one direction than the other.
Where Are You in Your Business’ Lifespan?
If you’re further into your business life than others, 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.
However, if you’re looking at your branding again, its clear that something has changed, developed, or not worked in the past.
The further along you are in your life as a business, the more you have to consider when it comes to your company brand.
How Big Is Your Business?
You might be wondering what the size of your business has to do with how much branding costs.
But think about it:
If you’re running a multi-million pound logistics and haulage company, you have a much bigger project than someone setting up as a personal trainer.
The business is bigger, and therefore you have a lot of extra considerations to make.
When you’re dealing with physical branded items like products, uniforms, transport etc, you’ll also incur a lot of additional costs in the rebranding process.
Thinking about rebranding your business?
Check out our article about rebranding your company, and the top questions your boss is likely to ask you!
Not only do you have to make the initial investment into a branding agency, you also then have to roll that out across your entire business.
So the investment at “big business level” can be a lot higher than someone just starting out.
That’s not to say it’s not worth it.
If your business has grown significantly, or changed over time, then a rebrand might be exactly what’s needed to grow further in the future.
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.
How Much Does Branding Cost?
Now we’ve talked a lot of theory surrounding the costs of branding, and hopefully now you can see it’s simply not a case of “how much does branding cost?”
The answer isn’t simple. There are a lot of determining factors in the cost of a branding project.
We asked a number of friends and other professionals within the branding industry to contribute their thoughts and figures surrounding branding costs.
After analysing the responses, and taking averages, here are the costs of branding:
|Task||Low End Fee||High End Fee|
|Brand Audit / Discovery||£1000||£10,000|
|Website Design / Development||£2500||£100,000+|
|SEO / Digital Marketing||£500 per month||Thousands monthly|
|Social Media||Your own time||Thousands monthly|
The table is split into “low end” and “high end” services – because you get a range of agencies. From small teams, to huge teams, and everything in between.
The table focusses specifically on the price for design or consultancy rather than manufacture.
The cost of branding is not to do with quality, more to do with the size of branding agency you chose to partner with.
As you look at some of these figures in disbelief, 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 economize on the front end, for sure, 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 and hit the ground running.
Professional desgn and branding agencies will add value to your business, and choosing to invest in the right branding at the start, will serve you well for years to come.
Afterall, you don’t want to end up as a branding or rebranding failure.
What If I Don’t Have The Budget for Branding?
But what happens if you simply don’t have the money to spend on your branding?
The cost of branding can be quite expensive, but there are a few things you can do about that.
1. Save Your Money / Apply for Funding
Option one is to save as much money as you can over time. Then when you have the money, invest it into your business branding and marketing budget.
Or, you could always apply for funding.
Some local authorities will fund a certain percentage of branding and web related projects. So that’s always an option to explore.
2. Invest More of Your Own Time
Instead of investing with money, you could instead choose to invest time into the project.
Now, when I say this, people always want to dive into the brand identity design side of things themselves, and begin whipping up logo design ideas.
But that’s the wrong way to go. It’s always best to leave the brand identity to the professionals.
Your brand strategy however, is a different matter altogether.
Nobody knows your business better than you. So if you’re looking to shave substantial amounts off your branding budget, then invest your time into it.
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.
If you have an interesting product or service – you could always try bartering.
This won’t be an easy route, as agencies get pitched a lot. At Canny, we tend not to barter. But we know others that do!
If you truly believe your product or service could be a game changer for your branding agency – it might just be worth the ask.
When we partnered with 8men in Canada – they bartered with us. We exchanged our time on their branding and website, in exchange for one year’s worth of blog posts.
So, it can and does happen, you just have to make it a win-win situation!
The Top 5 Questions About the Cost of Branding
Now that you know how much branding costs, and how you can go about making it work for you, let’s take a look at the top five questions we get asked about the cost of branding.
How Much Does it Cost to Brand a Name?
Branding a name simply means working on a brand for a company. But that’s not what this question is asking.
What people mean when they ask “how much does it cost to brand a name?” is actually, how much does it cost to register/trademark/copyright your brand name?
The answer to that is, it completely depends on where you’re based.
In the UK, you can file for a trademark through the .gov.uk website by following this link. It costs £100 initially, then £25 per additional class.
In the USA, LegalZoom suggest the cost varies from state to state.
However, before you rush in to trademarking your idea for a company name, make sure you actually set your company up first.
In the UK, the two things aren’t related. You first need to form your Limited Company and register it with Companies House.
You can do this online yourself for £12, directly with the Government. Or you can work with an accountant or other professional to do this for you.
Once that’s all been approved, you can then apply to trademark your name if you feel it’s necessary.
Trademarks and company formations are an interesting matter, and in the future, we’ll write a bigger blog post around it.
How Much Do You Charge for Logo Design?
Trying to answer this question without specific details is a near impossible task.
However, we have actually written a full post about the price of logo design in the past.
Companies should expect to spend between £500 and £1000 on a well designed professional logo. However, there is no set figure and each logo design price can vary greatly. It’s hard to give an estimate without a detailed brief. We advise our clients to invest a minimum of £1000 into their logo design and brand identity. We won’t work on a logo design for any less than that.
Just like with branding, the cost and price of logo design varies depending on your exact requirements.
It’s always best to get in touch, talk to a professional, and get a proposal for your work.
How Much Does it Cost a Company to Rebrand?
The total cost of rebranding your company depends on the overall size of your business. It could start in the lower four figures, and for bigger companies, reach the top end of five figures.
Going back to our earlier example of a “small mom and pop bakery” – here’s what you’ll need to take into account;
- The cost of working with an agency on brand strategy, brand identity, or more than likely, both.
- The cost of changing physical assets such as; signage, packaging, marketing materials, and more.
- The dip in recognition within the community, and having to rebuild that trust with your audience.
The cost of rebranding a small bakery will pale in comparison to the cost of rebranding an international business with many different physical assets.
But if you’re going to rebrand, you need to do it all, and do it properly.
Consistency is key when it comes to the success of branding or rebranding a company.
What is Included in a Brand Package?
Oh the dreaded brand package. What’s in a brand package? What do you get for your money? What even is a brand package?
Well, we actually have a longer post all about the drawbacks of branding packages.
But here’s the deal:
A brand package is a range of skills and services bundled together into a “one size fits all” branding package.
Typically, a brand package includes;
- Brand name
- Logo design
- Stationery design (business cards and letterheads)
- Marketing materials (flyers or pop-up banners)
- and finally, Brand Guidelines
That’s it, your business brand wrapped up in a simple branding package.
But, as you’ve probably realised from what we’ve said in this post already, this is a terrible approach to branding your business.
Your business is not a carbon copy of somebody else’s.
Your business is unique, to you, and to your customers.
Buying a “cookie cutter” brand package or branding solution like this will only serve you short term.
To find out more about brand packages, check back in the near future for our full post discussing the matter.
What is the Cost of Branding?
The total cost of branding come down to what your business needs.
Agency Time + Your Time + Cost to Create or Change Physical Assets of Your Business = The Cost of Branding
Using the branding pricing table above, plus gathering estimates from additional suppliers for creating or changing your physical assets, you should be able to get a rough idea of the cost of branding your business.
What’s Included in the Cost of Branding? (Deliverables)
Finally, we’re onto the meat of the subject;
What’s included in the cost of branding your business, when you partner with a branding agency.
First things first, it all depends on the services you agree on and whether that’s the brand strategy, brand identity, or both together approach.
For the sake of keeping things succinct and to the point, let’s look at the “both together” approach, as this covers all bases.
Brand Audit or Discovery Sesion
A brand audit is the first step in any branding project, whether that be a brand strategy or brand identity project.
An audit gives both parties involved an overview and insight into the current state of play with the company.
When starting a new company or brand from scratch, an audit isn’t possible.
This is replaced with a Discovery Session, where the aim is to find out as much as possible about the new business.
Brand Audits or Discovery Sessions can take place in person or virtually, although we find in person sessions to generate better results.
The idea is to get everything out into the open and get both parties clear on where the company is now vs where they want to be.
If your agency are working on your brand strategy, they’ll be working towards identifying the following;
- Identifying your target audience
- Brand values – what value your brand brings your customers
- Brand promise – what you mean to your customers
- Brand positioning – where you fit into the marketplace
- Competitor research and analysis
- Brand mission – your ultimate goals
- Brand story – the “why” of your mission, why you set out to do what you’re doing
- Tone of voice – how you communicate and the language you use
- Brand pillars – the main pillars and driving factors of your brand
- The elevator pitch – a 30 second explanation of your brand and what you’re about
This will all be wrapped up in a tidy document for you to refer to when needed.
If you then move ahead and work together on a brand identity, it’s common for both the strategy and identity guidelines to live inside one bigger “brand guide.”
Your brand identity is the visual representation of your brand.
It’s the part in the branding process that everyone always wants to jump ahead too. And that’s because it’s exciting to see your vision come to life!
Your brand identity will typically include designs for;
- Naming and messaging
- Logo Design
- Logo Design lock ups (horizontal and vertical versions)
- Business collateral (business cards, letterheads, etc)
- Sales presentation and marketing materials
- Trade show presence/environment
- Packaging design
- Website design
- Any other material your business needs
Your brand identity is the visual manifestation of your entire brand strategy.
It’s when a strong brand strategy and brand identity work together that a strong brand is created.
And finally, your brand strategy and brand identity should be put together to create your brand guidelines.
Inside your brand guidelines document, you should find everything to do with your brand, it’s customers, it’s competitors, how it looks, how it communicates, and more.
Your brand guidelines are essentially a “brand bible.” They are your go-to resource when it comes to your brand.
They should be shared (or a reduced version should be shared) with your employees, and form part of their on-boarding handbook – to ensure everyone within your company is on the same page.
Your brand guidelines are a living, breathing, document that should be added to over time.
Get them out when you’re creating new adverts, refresh on them when bringing in new talent etc.
Your brand guidelines are the lifeblood of your business brand.
What are the Additional Costs of Branding?
As we’ve already talked about, the additional costs of branding depend on the size of your business.
If you’re the small bakery, the costs won’t reach too far into the four figures.
If you’re an international logistics and haulage company with a fleet of 200 trucks that all need new sign writing, you’re going to be looking at a much bigger bill.
Here are some of the basic things to keep an eye on when it comes to additional branding costs:
If you have any sort of physical presence, it’s likely that you’ll need to change your signage.
This could be a shop sign, a sign above your office, window graphics, or any other type of signage you can think of.
If you’ve dealt with a reputable signage company before, it’ll be worth your time getting a fresh quote from them early in the branding or rebranding process.
This is likely to be one of your biggest costs, unless you’re using reams and reams of printed materials.
Stationery is normally pretty inexpensive. In fact, the more you buy the cheaper it can get.
I recently priced a run of new business cards, letterheads, and compliment slips for a client.
1000 of each item ran in at £200. Whereas 2000 of each only added £40 to the price.
So if you know you’re going to be using a lot of stationery, get a larger quantity to start with. It’ll keep your costs down later!
Depending on the type of marketing materials you need, these too can be pretty cheap.
Flyers and leaflets are ten a penny. Roller banners tend to cost less than £50.
Unless you’re planning on buying a huge trade show exhibition stand, your marketing materials shouldn’t add too much to your overall branding cost.
And if you are buying a huge new trade show stand, take solace in knowing it’s going to look great with your new brand identity!
Packaging design can be a bit of a tricky one because it really depends on how many products and the type of packaging you use.
If everything you send out goes in a printed box, then take stock of how many of your old brand’s packaging you have left, and decide what to do from there.
Is it worth recycling 10,000 boxes? Probably not. 100 of them? Straight into the recycle bin.
Then simply supplying your box manufacturer with the new artwork will bring your packaging in line with your new brand.
Without knowing specifics, talking about your brand’s packaging design could be a blog post in itself. So feel free to leave a comment about your specific packaging and I’ll get back to you!
Check out this blog post, if you’re looking for some tasty packaging inspiration.
Sign writing vehicles can be quite inexpensive. So if you only have one of two company vehicles, don’t worry.
If you have a large fleet of trucks, then it’ll be worth speaking to a range of people and trying to negotiate the best deal.
Here’s a tip:
Quite often, signage companies will provide both “actual” signs, and also offer vehicle sign writing. See if you can get a better price by doing it all through one company!
We’ve got a post chock full of vehicle and van wrap design ideas for you too!
Important Considerations About the Cost of Branding
There are a number of additional important considerations you need to make when asking “how much does branding cost?”
Let’s take a look at some additional factors that can impact the price of a branding project.
Where in the World Are You?
Asking “how much does branding cost in the UK?” is very different to asking “how much does branding cost in India, Asia, or other parts of the world?”
Branding costs in the UK and USA tend to be quite high when compared to India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Before you rush to find an offshore branding agency, you have to evaluate the risk/reward of the situation.
Is it worth trying to shave a few pounds or dollars off the final price, and work with someone at the other side of the world?
Deciding to offshore such a big part of your business’ development is a huge decision.
We’re going to write an article about the pros and cons of offshoring your branding, web, digital, or design work in the near future, so check back soon.
The Size and Scale of Your Company
As well as the size of the branding project itself, the size of your company is something to consider.
Obviously, if we were asked to rebrand a company like Google, the cost would be significantly higher than the cost of branding a small restaurant.
The bigger your company, the bigger your branding budget or rebranding budget needs to be.
How Interesting is the Branding Project?
Some branding projects just captivate an agency – and they’ll do whatever they can to be involved.
Sometimes this includes slashing prices just to get the project through the door.
I love wrestling. And if a wrestling company came to Canny with a branding project, I’d be doing absolutely everything I could to make sure we won that work.
That’s personal taste and preference. Then there’s another side to it.
Some agencies are more interested in certain types of niches or services than others.
At Canny, I prefer working on branding and web projects where we have control of the whole thing. From the brand strategy and identity, through to the website and digital marketing.
I’m much less interested in standalone brand audits or strategy projects.
And this is why it’s worth talking to a few agencies about your project.
You’ll find a branding agency that’s “just right” for you. When you meet them, it all goes swimmingly, the proposal comes in on time, and on budget.
If you’re happy, and they’re interested, then it’s off to the races!
Conclusion: How Much Does Branding Cost?
In summary, 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 to not take your branding efforts seriously?
What is your brand worth to you? And what is your brand experience worth to your customer base? Let us know in the comments below.
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