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How much should I spend on my brand, and when? A guide to branding your business

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It is true that some businesses spend only a few thousand dollars on branding, whilst others spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. With such a large range, how do you know how much you should be spending?

Before we address how much, let’s start with what might be even more important: when should you invest in your branding? The answer is the earlier the better, for two reasons. Firstly, if you leave your branding to the very last minute, there is often no time and very little money (if any) to create a brand that will communicate why you started up your business, its values and personality. Conveying these three basics of your business through effective branding is extremely important because it builds up the foundation for awareness and recognition around your brand, which is expensive and difficult to change later down the track.

Secondly, if you are a business that needs a fit out such as restaurant or shop, it’s critical that a branding specialist is brought it at the design phase to give them the perfect opportunity to find spaces within your environment to place branding and find unique and potentially cost-effective ways to amplify your voice such as a mural, a bespoke sample station or even unique waiting area. Remember branding includes paint colours, menus, lighting and even bathroom signage and implementing these at the time of the fit-out will save you thousands than if you had waited until after the fit out was complete.

How much should I spend?

As a rule of thumb, branding sits under marketing budget and it’s recommended that your marketing budget should be 5-10% of your total yearly turnover. If you’re in startup phase, estimate what your first year turnover is and work back from there.

As a rough guide, expect your branding to cost around $10,000 at a minimum, and the higher the budget means the more choice you have in terms of scope and scale of your rollout.

A word of warning about your logo: it’s tempting to go to a site like 99Designs or Fiverr for cheap logo design. This is a great option IF you do your homework first and know your brand inside out so that you can write a very detailed and strong brief for the designer. This will ensure you wind up with something great, not something that will cost you in the long run.

How should I spend my budget?

The budget for your brand should be broken down into the initial cost of developing the brand (this is conceptualising the brand and creating the imagery) and then the cost of the rollout of the brand (which can be expensive if your business requires an extensive roll out such as stickers for cars, large or intricate signage or packaging and point of sale per retail outlet.)

Creating a list of priorities for your rollout will help you determine how much you can invest and can be broken into three categories: branded items that are business critical, branded items that give the maximum exposure for minimum dollar value and, finally, the ‘nice to have’ things.

For example, a restaurant’s branded marketing material that is considered business critical would be a logo, website, signage, business or leave behind cards, menus, uniforms and an on-site branding consultation.

While a ‘business critical’ list is likely to have used up the majority of a $10,000 budget, determining extra branded items for maximum but cost-effective impact is still possible and as simple as looking at what will enhance your customer’s experience with your business?

Depending on what your business is, this might be a pre-printed note, signed by the owner thanking the customer and offering them a discount for next time, which can easily be printed together with your business cards, saving time and money. Another example might be creating two or three branded coasters that you can rotate and which promote other products within your business. This will give you two to three months of marketing material for a relatively low cost.

There is value in creating a well-thought-out brand early on for your business and spending an affordable amount you’re comfortable with in rolling it out. Changing branding a few years into trading is a nightmare and having to re-establish and shift customer awareness can cost you enormously.

Stella Gianotto is a branding guru who is passionate about making branding accessible and understandable for her clients. Stella teaches her clients how to navigate the muddy waters of branding through real world examples of branding in our everyday lives, and sharing her roads to success and the lessons she learned. Stella’s presence in the industry has led to her contribution to several books, Marketing Brands Made Easy, Social Media Marketing: Write Up Your Tweet, Book of Amazing People, Well Spun: Big PR and Social Media Ideas for Small Business. As a business owner herself, Stella understands the juggle that every business owner has with time and finances and that has led her to help businesses understand how, and why, they should be branding their business. For more information go to www.brandforbrands.com

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