As dedicated, passionate brand professionals, we utilize various tools to draw out the company’s essential truths. Which techniques we use and in what quantity is a matter of which initiative we’re working on, and, of course, time and budget. What you ultimately pay in branding costs and fees should always be in proportion to your annual marketing spend, your marketing objectives and your expected return on investment. For a brand strategist, positioning consultant or brand messaging specialist to work with you on sharpening your creative brief, expect to pay anywhere between $2500 – $5000. To evaluate and improve your company’s or product’s position, you could be looking at anywhere from $3750 for a small business, but considerably more for a larger business due to the complexities involved. To thoroughly define the brand opportunity and create a brand blueprint, your strategic branding fees at a smaller, independent firm could be $12,000 – $36,000, while the larger firms regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars (a worthwhile expenditure when you consider their work is often a major determinant of marketplace success.)
Branding process (brand discovery & brand strategy) elements:
Elements included in the recommended brand discovery process and your proposed scope of work obviously impact branding costs and fees. While thorough brand discovery may utilize all of these inputs, a positioning consult requires less meetings and less intense investigations, while a creative brief tightening is usually limited to the first four.
- One-on-one interview(s)
- A questionnaire typically forms the foundation of the interviews
- Immersion via communications audit – a study of your historical marketing examples
- Competitive analysis – via web or other collateral you may have on file
- Review of recent SWOT analysis
- Group meetings
- Kick-off Meeting
- Creative Exercises
- Conversation with existing clients
- Survey and digestion of any available data or research
Strategic branding costs and fees
Though the time and fees required to engage in thorough branding may seem substantial at first, this is a bit of a misnomer. You’ve got to amortize costs like this, just like it was real estate or capital equipment. In my opinion, for any business that will spend $500 – 750k on marketing over the next 3 years, a 6-8% spend on increasing understanding of the company’s approach to the market is more than a proactive performance marketing move; it’s an insurance policy, a hedge against more wasted marketing dollars moving forward. When you think about all of your other business expenses, how many can even hope to deliver the same customer creation you’ll realize (if done expertly) from your branding costs and fees?
If you regularly spend more than that or many multiples of that benchmark number, calculating the marketing ROI becomes even more of a slam dunk. Under that, and we’re going to want to create a tight plan for making brand progress while we’re tending to more immediate needs. The other thing I try to do for clients on a tight budget is scale back the items and time I devote to each one. But, at the end of the day, there should be a proportion between company revenues, marketing budget and what you’re putting into your brand strategy. What I try to do for startup brands and small business brands is position them with personality. It’s not exactitude or a permanent solution. It’s a bridge that puts them on a path to a better tomorrow, while helping them defray out-of-reach branding costs and fees.