Wondering how much it’ll cost to brand your small business? The short answer is: it depends. There are a myriad different factors that go into defining the cost of branding; you could truthfully invest anywhere from $500 to $50,000, depending on your scope, budget, and who you work with.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the main factors that come into play when pricing branding. We’ll also ask the question: How much does it cost you not to brand your business? Or worse, to brand your business poorly? Branding is an investment in your business, and like all investments, it should produce an ROI.
Cheap vs. premium branding
When thinking about how much branding costs, it’s necessary to make a distinction between cheap and premium branding. Pricing is very subjective, so it’s difficult to draw a clear line between cheap and premium. But in general, anything below $1000 USD could be considered cheap when it comes to branding. When I say branding, I’m referring to a branding suite, which generally includes strategy, logos, colors, fonts, and guidelines. The cost of premium branding has a much wider range, from the low four figures to the upper five figures and beyond.
How much does cheap branding cost?
I charged my very first branding and web design client $1250 for a basic branding suite (logos, colors, fonts, style guide, stationery) and a 5-page website. Today, I charge about 6x that amount. What’s the difference? Well, back then I was inexperienced and didn’t have a streamlined process like I do now. I also wasn’t in demand, like at all. I’m pretty sure that the main reason anyone hired me at all back then was because I was cheap.
However, cheap branding comes at a cost. Designers that charge low rates, like I did in the early days, typically do so for one or more of the following reasons:
- They’re not confident in their skills and/or the results they’re capable of producing.
- They don’t have a clear process for working with clients.
- They’re just starting out and are charging low rates in order to break into the competitive industry.
- They’re desperate for work and will take what they can get.
- They live in a region with a low cost of living and can get by on less.
- Their design business is a side hustle, and they have a “real job” to sustain them.
Most of these reasons come with the cost of increased risk for the client. For instance, if you work with an inexperienced designer, you risk getting a mediocre result that doesn’t meet your expectations. If you work with a designer who doesn’t have a clear process in place, you risk the frustration of an inefficient project that doesn’t meet your deadline.
Depending on where you’re at in your business, you might be willing to take on some of these risks–and that’s totally okay! Sometimes they pay off. And we all have to start somewhere. But if you’re willing to put more money into your business in exchange for a better process and results, it’s worth investing in premium branding.
Note: If you’re an inexperienced designer reading this who charges low rates, know that this post isn’t at all intended to bash you! I was in your shoes not that long ago. There will always be clients looking for cheap work; and you can absolutely raise your rates and become a premium designer over time. Shoot me a message if you’re looking for support in growing your design business.
How much does premium branding cost?
If you’re looking to invest in premium branding, expect to spend $2000 at minimum. I consider myself to be on the lower end of the premium pricing range, and most clients spend between $3000-8000 with me. If you’re working with an agency, as opposed to a freelancer or small studio, expect to spend upwards of $10k or more–just on branding.
Investing in premium branding eliminates a lot of the risk that comes with investing in cheap design. Most premium brand designers are:
- experienced and resourceful.
- confident in their skills and expertise (because they’ve generated results multiple times over for previous clients).
- highly in demand (i.e. booking projects one or more months in advance).
- methodical and efficient.
- connected to other premium service providers, like copywriters, web developers, and marketing pros.
When you invest in premium branding, you’re getting so much more than a pretty logo. You’re getting strategy, expertise, a pleasant, smooth process, and lasting results.
Freelancers vs. agencies
One of the main factors that influences the price of branding is whether you choose to work with an agency or a freelancer. In general, agencies charge more because they have higher overheads. They also likely have a team of creatives working on your brand. Freelancers, on the other hand, tend to have lower expenses and can make a healthy profit charging less than agencies.
So how do you decide whether to hire a freelancer or agency to brand your business? There are a few factors to consider apart from price.
When to hire a freelancer
If your branding budget is $5000 or less, you should probably hire a freelancer over an agency. You can find plenty of branding experts, like myself, who can deliver a professional and comprehensive branding suite within that budget. An agency, on the other hand, might deliver a single logo at the same pricetag.
That said, many premium, in-demand freelancers charge much more than $5000 for a branding suite. Their pricing might even be comparable to that of an agency. If you take pricing out of the picture, there are a few reasons why you might prefer to hire a freelancer over an agency. For one, freelancers take on fewer clients at a time; as a result, they’re able to treat every like a VIP. Their process tends to be more personalized and relationship-driven. Freelancers can also work faster because there are fewer players involved.
In sum, consider hiring a freelancer to brand your business if:
- Your budget is under $5000, or under $10,000 including web design
- You value building relationships with your collaborators; a personal touch goes a long way
- You’re on a tight timeline
When to hire an agency
Agencies may be more expensive than most freelancers, but not without reason. Agencies typically have a lot of resources at their disposal. If you’re looking for an all-in-one branding experience that includes additional services like web design, copywriting, marketing, photography, and ads, hiring an agency may be the way to go.
Working with an agency also means working with a team, as opposed to a single person. This adds a level of security to the project. It also means there are multiple minds dedicated to your project, which could open up more creative doors and opportunities. You’ll have more directions and concepts to choose from, which could be a positive or negative depending on your preferences.
In sum, consider hiring an agency to brand your business if:
- You have a healthy budget and want to invest in a variety of creative services all at once
- You’d prefer to work with a team, rather than an individual
- You want to be presented with a lot of different ideas and concepts to choose from
How much does not investing in branding cost?
Now that we have some ballpark ranges of how much branding can cost, let’s acknowledge the costs of not investing in your brand. It may sound counterintuitive, but going the cheap or DIY route can actually cost you valuable time and money in the long run.
For instance, let’s say you hire someone on Fiverr to design a $50 logo for you. The result is ok, but you don’t love it. A few months later, you decide to give it another go. You hire a different designer, and this time pay $500 for a set of logos and a color palette. Again, the result is ok, but something feels off. It just doesn’t really align with the big vision you have for your business; and it’s definitely not attracting your dream clients. Finally, you decide to “do it right” and invest $3000+ in a strategic brand designer who not only designs a beautiful, cohesive brand, but who also actually cares about your goals and dreams and effortlessly brings your vision to life.
It’s totally ok and normal to be on a budget when starting a business; but you don’t need to waste time, money, and energy on band-aid solutions. Premium branding can get you where you want to be quickly and efficiently, and be a fun and rewarding process along the way.
Ready to bring your dream business to life, once and for all? Click here to learn more about how my signature brand and web design packages can support you in building an abundant business that aligns with your vision and values.