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How much does branding cost?

Piotr Synowiec

Over the last five years of working as Holy Sheep! as well as earlier, as a different company, we’ve had the chance to work on over 100 projects. Each of them had a similar beginning – early talks, briefing (gathering information about the project), then analysis of the clients’ actual needs and work estimation. That was it for the technical part, because something else is emotional preparation and awareness of choice and its consequences – including those regarding designers themselves.

Whether a brand is new and its image must help it gain trust, or its a seasoned company that finally has time to update its visual communication, (re)branding, changes to the website, and general works on the image are an important step in the life of every brand.

Weight of branding decisions comes down to more than money. Their most important consequence is the effect – does it really fit the company’s needs? Branding effort must meet business goals (both image- and sales-related) but also provide comfort for the brand itself – its owners and workers. Any branding studio should respect and help the client’s brand during this challenging stage of growth.

How much do I need to start?

Are you planning a rebranding or want to launch a great new image for your brand? First, ask yourself this: how much do I want to change the perception of my company? Projects that consist of only new logo and business cards will be priced differently from large-scale ventures that basically build everything from the ground up – from name to visual identity to profesional content and web design.

Properly designed name improves the brand’s position in customers’ memory, helps create a uniform identity and builds a solid grounds to support the company’s further growth.

In case of new companies that don’t have big branding budget, it’s important to reasonably allocate available resources to achieve as much as possible at the lowest cost. Good name – based on the right associations and company’s story – is fundamental for putting together a scalable visual identity and printing materials. It provides consistency and builds up interest among customers which impacts the first months of the company’s life. Solid foundations are a promising investment for long years. Long existing names that did not make naming its top priority and chose its year randomly or in a rush often face larger costs of rebranding and reconstruction of visual and written communication.

Properly designed name improves the brand’s position in customers’ memory, helps create a uniform identity and builds a solid grounds to support the company’s further growth.

Logo as the foundation

If the name and communication strategy are the brand’s foundation, logo is the first floor that defines its visual language. Brand mark sets the course for other visual elements and overall feeling of the brand – together they influence the media perception and sympathy with fans. We all know and like brands that, thanks to unique and adequate logo design and key visual (main visual theme that appears on all company materials and promotional campaigns), were never erased from our memory. It was the well-thought-out concept, balanced visual execution and tasteful communication that helped those brands stand out from millions of others and ultimately increase profits. Company owners who refer to logo as an „unimportant stamp” that appears on their business cards are usually the ones whose brands are easily forgotten – just like that business card that drowns in somebody’s wallet and eventually ends up in the trash.

Investment of a few thousands of Euro in logo design alone may be difficult to understand or even unacceptable – especially for businesses that had just started – but more often than not, it has a very lucrative return when the brand enters the mature growth stage.

What’s the scope of project?

The costs of building a new brand’s new image depends on many different factors. The most obvious ones are the scope and deadline. Projects that must be completed faster than its commonly accepted require significant time engagement and possibly adding new team members. This is one of the reasons why the costs may be larger than expected.

While defining the scope of project, it’s important for the client to be reasonable about available time and financial resources. Many businesses end the project on logo and business cards – where’s the time for other printing materials and website as well as their proper implementation? Partially incomplete rebranding project usually confuse customers and creates an impression of an unfinished, sometimes even low quality work. Given all that, it’s important to decide on the most important elements of a project and choose those that will be useful for our business and influence influence its image. Other can be scraped or postponed to limit the expense and allocate the funds to create a professional image. Setting priorities is important for the project as a whole – make sure that designers you work with can help you in this matter.

While saving money is essential for every business, choosing an unsuitable designer may after a few months make completed projects obsolete and force the brand to start from the very beginning.

In some extreme situations setting the right scope for the project can be difficult. This is why it’s very important to prepare an exhaustive market analysis before presenting the price estimate. Sometimes clients who just want a „small website” end up ordering the whole rebranding: visual identity, website copy, photo session and web design of more than 20 pages. On the other end there are clients who had too high expectations and were ready to pay unnecessary costs – first they were interested in the full scope of the project but after thoughtful analysis of the estimate and design problems they realized that their actual needs are much smaller and don’t require that much time and money.

What you have to remember about

Effective rebranding is the resultant of other factors. While choosing the contractor who will design branding for your business, make sure to check:

  • freelancer / agency’s field experience – take a close look not only at the portfolio and time at the market, but especially search or ask for real-life case study that will legitimate the team’s skill set, knowledge and intuition (not just for beautiful visuals but also business goals);
  • experience with real-life clients from diverse industries – there are many graphic designers on Behance who showcase their meticulously polished, luxurious projects made for imaginary clients. They never worked with them professionally and picked them only to add an interesting new project to their portfolios. Even though those presentation looks really great, they rarely present design skills that solve actual business problems. Such skills can be obtained only through working on real-world projects that always come with unexpected restraints and special requirements. Rebranding concepts of well-known companies are extremely appealing, mostly thanks to expensive photo sessions (some of which are „borrowed” from the brands’ current websites) and other materials that in the real world are rarely available due to limited budget;
  • freelancer / agency / studio’s visual style – majority of designers feel comfortable in a small niche (typography, illustration, flat design, etc) what often leads to a homogeneous portfolio. Despite different themes and unique project specifics, their designs look similar and use common elements. A good designer should be able to adjust his style to the industry’s unique trends and requirements. Effective visual language supports the brand’s communication and is consistent with its fundamental concepts.

Most business owners will treat pricing as one of the most factors when it comes to choosing design contractor. While saving money is essential for every business, choosing an unsuitable designer may after a few months make completed projects obsolete and force the brand to start from the very beginning.

The cost of rebranding – especially for companies that seek to change their name or other foundations – is a huge effort for every business and can impact its further life and well-being.

Touch points worth of investment

Complex brand design concerns more than a name, logo or website. It revolves around every point of contact between a brand and its customers and workers. There are tens of pieces that build a successful branding and the most important of them are:

  • name / logo / website / promotional materials,
  • customer service standards,
  • product and service experience,
  • online presence and reputation,
  • product presentation – packaging quality (for physical products) and shopping experience (especially for e-commerce brands),
  • marketing,
  • employer branding

…and many others that depends on the type of business and its strategic goals. Building a long-term image concerns connecting different touch points and requires investments not only of money, but also time and energy.

Every business owner should be able to answer this question: how many branding goals can I achieve in a year investing only in those elements that actually work? Dedicating resources to projects that are not likely to be implemented in the next 12 months is a lost opportunity of investing in elements that could impact the brand’s image today.

Budget is an important aspect that may significantly help create a well-tailored offer and pricing. It wasn’t until a few years ago that clients on the local market began presenting the budget during the negotiation stage. Such transparent approach helps to avoid many problems, disappointments as well as save time and energy. Designers can put together a proposal that perfectly fits and client’s profile and focuses on elements that are most important at the moment.

It all comes down to the core business

Even an award-winning brand won’t last long if it’s built on sand. Making empty promises while talking with clients is a recipe for the brand’s wasted potential and quick ending of the business relationship.

While business owners and staff are responsible for majority of these actions, contractor’s commitment to understanding the company’s unique flow and optimizing it for the best customer experience is a very good signal.

Ultimately, it is up to the client how the branding will be used and implemented and whether the initial goals are consistent with what the brand really represents and what kind of people help create it. Even the best branding is just an additional layer that helps a brand stand out from the competition.

Building a brand when the foundations are flawed can be perceived by clients as sweeping important problems under the carpet and trying to create an artificial image that has nothing to do with reality. Companies that are careful about their actions and values use branding to enhance the experience, improve its position on the competitive market, and gain trust among clients and customers.

The most important question: is it worth it?

Marketing campaigns with 5:1 investment return are usually presumed successful. Long-term ROI (Return of Investment) for good brands that spend a few to many thousands of Euro on communication and visual design can be much higher than 5:1. What can be more important when it comes to fighting the competition? I leave it up to your decision.

Drop us a line!

Can we help you out? If so, speak to us. Don’t delay, expand your brand with us. Let’s talk about what we can do today.

Piotr Synowiec

Peter Synowiec

[email protected]