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Budgeting for Your Brand-Building Program

Ask a handful of homebuilders how much it costs to build a home and you'll get a handful of different answers. The cost depends on the home being built. The same is true when the question is, "How much does it cost to build a brand?"

The variables involved in the cost of brand building include:

  • The amount of your own time and expertise you can commit: Especially if your brand is local or your business is small, you can probably research your current brand image, define your desired brand identity, and determine the value of the brand assets you've already developed without bringing in professional help.
  • The extent to which your brand will venture: If your brand will travel far from your home office and therefore will represent you when you're nowhere to be found, it had better be pretty impressive, which usually means that you'd better plan to make a more sizeable investment in branding than that required by a very small business with a small and geographically limited clientele.
  • The business level at which your brand will compete: Playing in the major league is more expensive than playing in the minor league. If you intend to compete with established, well-known, superbly branded companies or organizations, you'd better invest in a brand that's up to the task, which means a do-it-yourself logo is out of the question, for example.

As you assemble your budget, consider the range of costs involved in each phase of the brand development process. Based on the variables, adjust the numbers to your unique situation as you assign costs for each of the following three phases of the branding process:

1. Strategic development and positioning

This phase involves market research, brand identity research, brand aspiration research, and development of the positioning and branding strategies you'll follow to reach the branding success you seek.

2. Creation of brand identity elements

In this phase, professionals are worth their weight in gold. When it comes to creating, selecting, and protecting your name; designing your logo; devising your tagline; and developing the core marketing materials that will carry your brand into the marketplace, hire the best talent for the job.

If the job is development of a name and logo for a service business that faces only moderate competition in a localized market area, plan on a moderate investment. On the other hand, if the job is development of a name and logo that will travel not just past state lines but across international borders and through cyberspace to hundreds of thousands of business prospects, invest more heavily and amortize the cost for years to come.

3. Implementation of your brand strategy

When you've set your brand strategy and established your brand identity, implementing your branding program becomes part of your existing marketing program — and your existing marketing budget. Branding and marketing aren't separate in terms of message or money. Your brand strategy becomes the foundation for your marketing strategy, just as it becomes the basis of your business plan.

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