By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

Branding budgets run the gamut depending on whether you’re building a brand that will face only moderate competition in a small geographic region or a brand that aims to elbow out major competitors in the global marketplace. What’s more, budgets vary depending on whether you can reach your market through digital communications and social media or whether you need to invest in traditional media and marketing channels.

A glance at branding budgets

Here’s a lineup of the major tasks involved in brand development along with the range of price tags involved. Brace yourself: The high-end figures are apt to cause heart palpitations.

Task Low-End Fee High-End Fee
Name development $10,000 $75,000
Brandmark (logo) creation $3,500 $150,000
Core brand presentations (website and brand marketing
materials)
$10,000 $250,000+
Advertising $10,000 Millions annually
SEO (website search-engine optimization $1,000 monthly Thousands monthly
Social media Your time Hundreds of thousands annually
Signage, vehicles, packaging $20,000 $250,000+ annually

As you can see, there’s a huge range between the low-end costs involved to build a professional brand that competes on a local or regional level and the high-end costs involved to build a powerful brand that can flex its muscle nationally or internationally.

As you start tallying up the costs to your business, avoid the temptation to strike out certain line items that you think you can handle on your own without incurring outside costs. 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 your goal is to build a brand that you can grow, leverage, and even sell in the future, invest the money required to get off to a good start. By the time you amortize your start-up expenses, the cost will be minimal in comparison to the value received.

Branding without big bucks

In case you’re clinging to your billfold or balance sheet, shaking your head and wondering how you can build a brand on your kind of budget, remember this truth: In essence, your business is your brand and your brand is your business.

If you don’t have the budget to develop the most powerful brand identity, triple or quadruple your efforts to design and deliver the most consistent brand experience. Follow these suggestions:

  • Spend extra time and effort to define your brand and what it stands for so that everyone in your organization knows exactly the promise you’re making and keeping. Defining your brand involves creating your mission and vision statements, defining your brand promise, developing your brand definition and core brand message, and deciding on the brand character or personality that you’ll put forth with every brand communication.

  • Develop a brand experience that never fails or fluctuates. If you can’t have the most dazzling brand identity and presentation, aim instead to have the most amazing and amazingly consistent brand encounters.

When people choose your offerings, what they really buy into is your brand. How well you define and deliver your brand determines the ultimate value and success of your business. View branding not as an expense but as an investment that delivers value over the long haul.