There are a few things in life that leave people with nerve wrecking question marks in their mind. Did we really land on the moon? Do people really like Donald Trump? How much does branding really cost?
The former two questions I cannot answer with full confidence, but I can tell you exactly how much branding really cost. The answer is...it depends.
Budgeting for branding depends on your goals, how much you are ready to invest, are you hiring a solo-prenuer, boutique agency or a world class branding house.
Also, what exactly is cost? Of course you and/or your team can attempt refreshing your brand internally, but often times you may be to close to your business goals to approach your branding needs with an objective eye. All the time you waste trying to do "branding" task yourself is really costing you more in terms of productivity, efficiency, and billable hours. That is why it is a good idea to seek out a branding expert to influence and drive change.
That's great and all...but how much does it cost?
Glad you asked.
The best way to think of branding cost is in terms of levels. You have the Will Do, Professional, and The Over -The- Top.
Will Do Budget: Small Business- $7,500- 15,000
A small business is a business that is bringing in revenue between $500K and $1M give or take. If you have a budget in this range, this will get you a brand experience that "...will do". There are plenty of small agencies and many more freelancers that will create branding for this budget, but this comes with a trade off. You may not receive a strategic plan or market analysis, which is THE MOST important part of a brand experience. The money spent here will go towards more design oriented things, which are important, but not as important as the plan.
Within this range you will likely receive brand identity assets such as a logo, awebsite, a video (a low budget one), some print cultural, or maybe some consultancy. This may be all that you want, but a great branding expert is going to provide you with what you need.
Professional Budget: Medium-Large Business - $15,000-75,000
This is the ideal range for a medium to large business that is generating between $1M-250M in revenue. Within this budget range you can afford to hire branding experts that can focus on your brand. This is the perfect range to receive a strategic plan and the supporting content if needed.
For brand analysis a full service agency may charge you $30,000, where as a brand expert may charge $5,000. Once you consider developing a brand strategy, a small boutique shop may charge you as little as $10,000 and a larger agency may charge $20,000 or more.
Once you start adding in brand systems and assets, now you are looking at anywhere between $10,000 bare minimum and climbing up to about $50,000 for websites and content. Complete brand guidelines along with strategy and content can easily cost upwards of $60,000.
The Over-the-Top Budget: Enterprises $75,000-250,000+
Notice the plus sign behind the $250,000? That is because top companies such as Nike easily can spend over $2M to go towards marketing and branding efforts. The reality is, not every enterprise business is a Nike or Apple, but many do spend a significant figure towards there branding efforts.
Within this range your company will receive much of what is offered in the professional category, but on an grander scale. You can now start to think about interactive brand experiences, putting together real world events, leveraging cutting edge technology, over-the-top websites and app development, along with a robust strategy all to support growing your brand and its reach.
As you can see when it comes to branding, it really depends. Some people may look at these figures and think---no way in hell would I spend that much towards my branding, but the reality is those that do and do so with people that truly understand what it takes to establish a strong brand...they win!
It is recommended that you allocate 1-10% (sometimes more depending on your market) of your revenue to put towards your branding efforts.
Remember great branding is a product of more than just aesthetics. It is greater than a logo, website, or business cards. Great branding is a part of your business model and shouldn't be looked at as an after thought. When it comes to budgeting for your brand be realistic about your goals and for Pete's sake...be willing to invest in doing it right!
I hope this puts things in perspective.