Exclusive: How much does branding really cost?

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The most frequently asked questions when I mention Evolutz, my branding, design and website development startup are “how much do your services cost?”, “how much should startups invest in branding” and “when is the perfect time to make the investment?”. It all depends on your requirements, your business goals, competition and market.

Your branding journey

When you embark on your branding journey, it is important to understand that your brand is not just about acquiring a nice logo or flashing pretty colours. The reality is that on top of these elements, the typography, copyright, photography, the tone of your messages, will influence the overall image, will act as the reflection of your company and the way you conduct business. The way you brand your company – at the end of the day could be the difference between your success or failure. This brief article will touch upon what is a brand, approximate branding price ranges, first steps and best practices.

Important to note that the information provided below is subject to change at any time in the market, especially with the market shifting and evolving during COVID-19.

A ‘Brand’ – What is that?

A consistent brand, that is maintained and nurtured, will become a tool that will bring new clients and a new stream of revenue for your company. When thinking about branding – it is important to understand that a brand goes beyond a logo. A strong brand identity will aid in communicating your company’s vision, purpose and values to your targeted audience and marketplace. Additionally, it will help to define your product. Thus, your brand will be the foundation for communicating your service offering and become a part of your relationship that you will have with your audience. All of the above will have a significant impact on the growth of your company.

First steps – How should you start?

The goal is to remain realistic during the startup process. You should begin by utilising existing and available resources, create a business canvas model, have your idea validated, your marketplace and direct competition researched, and your target audience should be identified. During this stage, your goal is to institute a proof of concept that can demonstrate product/market fit and simultaneously find a way to bring investor dollar.

Once you understand your company’s position in your chosen marketplace, you have to identify how you will communicate your values, product and ideas to your audience. This will be one of the most crucial pieces of your branding puzzle to figure out and invest time into. If you need help figuring out this portion of the process, it would be wise to invest in a consultant that could aid in a few days to figure out your value proposition, brand goals, core values and next steps. At the end of the day, the way you communicate who you are as a company to your audience is vital.

I suggest establishing the latter first, before you begin investing into your visual identity process, creating a logo and developing your website.

Best practices and tips to consider

You should ask yourself, “why am I starting a business?”, the answer to this question will begin the pathway to your brand identity. There are many steps that occur behind the scenes, in order to get to the ‘launching a startup’ stage. Here are top five action items that you can consider, when beginning your branding journey with your start up:

Research, research, research – Do you have competition? Do you have a market? Who is your audience? How much did it cost others to launch their business?

What is your differentiator? This is where you should identify how you stand out from your competition, how you are able to optimise or provide a service and how is your product going to solve a problem? I suggest creating a unique “Capabilities Report” Deck, this will help you stand out and present your company in a branded manner.

What is your budget? No matter if your budget is US$15.00 or a million, you still need to understand your budget and how you will invest it. It is important to track where the money goes and what is the return on investment.

Your branding strategy: This will take a moment, but if you have a vision make sure to write your ideas down, sketch how you envision your logo and look into hiring someone that can help you develop and maintain your brand.

Stay Consistent: In a competitive market, especially in the digital world, where we are able to view and process a lot of information. It is crucial that you find something that will allow you to stand out. However, once you do stand out – it is important to stay consistent with your message and brand. Consistency is your key to success.

Approximate price ranges

When you are beginning to identify your branding direction, you have more or less three avenues that you can take. You can invest your personal time to do the branding yourself, you can hire an independent consultant or hire an agency. Whichever option you will choose it will determine your level of success, outreach, effectiveness and how you are perceived in the marketplace.

The reason why you are reading this article is to find out how much does branding really cost? Well, isn’t that the million-dollar question.

Upon research and personal experience, I can say that pricing is determined on a case by case/project by project basis, as well as it depends on the type of business you are branding. However, it is safe to state that for the security industry, 5-15% can be a rough estimate of how much implementing your branding strategy can cost.

For instance, if you are investing US$25,000.00 of your capital into your startup, your approximate branding costs can be around US$1,250.00 – US$3,750.00. If you have a bigger budget and invest US$125,000.00 into your startup, you can expect to spend around US$6,250.00 – US$18,750.00. The investment will differ on how many designers or the agency you hire, their rates and the type/complexity of the project and brand that you have in mind.

Yet, if you are looking to just create a logo and a visual identity for your business, you can expect to spend approximately between US$5,000.00 – US$25,000.00 with a freelancer or a small firm, and potentially around US$30,000.00 – US$90,000.00 plus with a large agency firm. If you also need a website, the investment can range from US$5,000.00 – US$100,000.00 or more, depending on how many pages you need, your SEO optimisation, ecommerce page, blog page, or any other related features. 

If you do not want to retain an employee or branding firm on a full-time basis, you can take the hourly rate route. You can expect to invest US$75.00 – US$150.00 per hour for a freelancer and between US$150.00 – US$700.00 per hour for an agency (or more), depending on where they are located, their rates and size.

Once again, branding projects can have a great variability in cost – especially with endeavours and visions becoming more complex, requiring additional research, moodboarding, content creation, prototyping, design, series of revision sessions and various engineering efforts.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, branding numbers and prices can be thrown around. However, you need to find a designer or an agency that understands and shares your vision for the brand. And if you do not have that vision yet, find someone that will help you develop it. Make your business a reality at your own pace, create a strategy, implement deadlines and understand the ins-and-outs of your vision. Once you begin, answers will come to you, but do not be afraid to reach out, you never know how your network can aid you in your journey. Good luck.

branding
Suzanna Alsayed

By Suzanna Alsayed, MDEM

Author Bio

Suzanna Alsayed, MDEM, is a trilingual emergency management and security specialist and founder of holistic security and emergency management firm, Hilt International Security and independent brand, design and website development agency, Evolutz. She has more than eight years’ experience in various roles within the public and private sectors, with expertise in facilitating multidisciplinary projects involving internal and external stakeholders.

You can contact Suzanna through her LinkedIn profile here

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