Simply pulling a figure out of the air is short-sighted and naïve. We suggest that you consider branding as an investment rather than a cost. Be business-like, think about the return you want to create and then allocate a sensible percentage as your investment. Having a thorough understanding of what branding will cost your organisation and building a business case to support the activity is the practical way to start.
For those thinking about starting their branding journey, we’ve outlined some of the phases that you may want to consider as part of your business case. Costs can vary between businesses depending on their size, customer touchpoints, and internal capabilities. However, there are some milestones that all branding projects take.
Use this blog as a checklist to start your exploration into what monetary investment you’ll need to make. Then consider what you can commit in terms of time and energy.
It would help to consider what initial impact you need to make. You could adopt a minimal viable approach that will keep budgets low – but acknowledge that further work will need to be done to scale up as demand is proven. You could stagger the implementation, releasing your brand with steady momentum by focussing on the most impactful touchpoints first and then building to a more comprehensive roll-out over time. Or do you need to make maximum impact with everything in place for day one?
Typically, businesses set aside 5-10% of the sales revenue for Marketing. If you need to continue business as usual, your branding budget will need to be invested in addition to this figure.
Stage One – Knowing your brand
The first stage of any brand project should be strategic. Developing a robust brand strategy platform will help you articulate the answers to the fundamental Why?, What?, How?, Who? and Where? questions surrounding your brand. It will act as a guiding light and a benchmark for all subsequent workstreams, including brand naming, brand identity and the creation of brand assets and branded applications.
Working with an agency to help you articulate a brand platform, including Vision, Values, Positioning and Essence, can speed up this process and make it easier to build consensus internally. External to your company, the agency’s position brings professional objectivity to the process. Strategy definition often starts with a series of discovery workshops. The cohort of participants can vary from just the founders or leadership team to a representative sample of stakeholders from across the company. A larger sample delivers a greater cross-section of opinion and usually deeper insight, but the cost rises with scale. Usually, the agency will be experts at facilitating these conversations to elicit valuable responses – and they’ll be highly skilled in analysing the output and articulating the final strategic statements.
If you’re looking to create a brand name, you can expect costs for idea generation, suitability assessment, trademarking, domain name searches and purchase. It might be quick; it may take months, but having clear parameters at the beginning will help deliver value from the process.
Creating a new brand identity is more than just a logo. Important though they are, logos are only part of the identity. You’ll definitely need a colour palette and a typeface selection, but your visual vocabulary might also include photography, patterns, layout style, iconography, information graphics, charts and diagrams, illustration, and animations. Brand guidelines will be required to set clear and consistent usage rules.
The tone of voice is another important consideration that is often overlooked unless someone has experience with the branding process. What you say and how you say it has a fundamental part to play in amplifying your brand’s personality and helping to differentiate your brand from competitive offers. The scope of a tone of voice project depends on the number of people who write on behalf of your brand – and it’s usually more than you think – and the level of detail you want to provide guidance for.
You may also want to research or test the work at various points in the development cycle to ensure the direction of your brand is clear and resonates with your target audience.
This phase of work could be anywhere between £25,000 – £100,000 of your budget. Consider your RFP carefully to provide sufficient clarity on what you require so that the quotes you receive are comparable.
Stage Two – Galvanising support for your brand
Brands are built from the inside out. All employees must be aligned with a new or revitalised brand. Those directly included will feel a sense of authorship over the outcome, but what about those outside the rebranding workstreams? They also need to feel engaged and confident with the new brand before they can effectively start acting as advocates and ambassadors with your target external audiences. Employees will become the ‘face of the brand’, so everyone needs to understand what it stands for and how it should be represented.
Jerry Sternin, a former Assistant Dean at Harvard Business School, says, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.”
Don’t expect a new or revitalised brand to launch, and that be the end of the job. You need to show your internal audience how to act differently – and then they’ll come round to thinking differently, in line with your new brand. People adopt new behaviours and ways of thinking if the argument for change feels coherent and rational, and the requested modification makes their lives easier and more productive. Make the path of least resistance lead the way to an on-brand result, and success is likely. Make people’s lives more difficult or complicated, and the opposite is true.
You might want to consider internal communications such as:
• Townhall presentations on how to communicate and live the new brand
• Brand engagement workshops
• Brand book
• Launch video
• Emails to staff
• Goodie bag for employees
• Updating all HR and employee initiatives and programmes.
Again, this phase of work depends on how much can be produced with internal capabilities and how many staff must be taken through the process. Typical budgets for this could range from £20,000 – £60,000.
Stage Three – Launch of your Brand
Launching your brand is an exciting and busy phase of work. Your internal capabilities may dictate how this phase is implemented but what’s crucial is prioritising the essential touchpoints for your customer journey. Start with those that have the most significant impact. Below is an indicative list of the kind of applications you need to consider. It’s not exhaustive, but it should help give you some idea of the scope.
• Office or store interiors and signage
• Trade stands and exhibitions
• Vehicle livery
• Brochures, sales collateral, customer journey communications
• Staff uniforms and security passes
• Branded merchandise
• Business cards and other stationery
• Sponsorship or event collateral
• Marketing plan deliverables
• Websites and intranets
• Stationery, finance and documentation templates
• Email signatures and email templates
• Social media assets
• Internal/external software or apps
• Marketing plan deliverables
Appropriate budget allocation can’t be determined until a launch plan has been created and the assets required have been identified and agreed upon. This phase of work could range from £50,000 to £250,000+.
Launching a new brand or embarking upon a rebrand is a commitment to and an investment in your business’s future growth and success. It deserves careful planning, due consideration, and appropriate funding levels at each stage.