A few weeks ago, someone slid in my Instagram DMs, and asked me a question that I get pretty frequently: how much does brand strategy cost? To answer that question honestly and in context, I had to ask them a few follow-up questions to learn more about her brand, what issues she’s having, and a few other things.
What I wanted to make sure they understood was this: Investing in brand strategy is investing in the longevity of your brand and in cultivating deeper connections with your audience.
So let’s answer this question together: how much does a strong brand strategy cost?
What is brand strategy and why is it important?
Think of brand strategy as being similar to the blueprint of a house.
Blueprints give the house shape; Giving structure and dimensions to each room in relation to it’s surroundings. Without blueprints or house plans, you’re gonna have a hard time building a house in an efficient and organized way. The same goes for building a brand: if you don’t have a plan and established boundaries set up, you’re going to constantly go off the rails.
So if you’ve ever felt all over the place like you’re not sure who you’re talking too, what to say to them, and how to package that messaging into something visual: then you’re experiencing something that no one runs a business has time to for:
Losing money and wasting time.
Brand strategy is a key player in every successful business that you admire.
Brands poised for longevity have a few things in common. They all:
- Took the time to develop and fully understand their target audience
- Fully understand the feelings their audience has surrounding their brand/product/service
- They understand the brand’s unique position to solve people’s problems
- Lean into how the brand can solve those problems in a unique and efficient way
Those brands are memorable, admirable, and predictable (in a good way).
Brand strategy helps you as a business owner make better decisions, faster.
When you have a brand that understands the psychological issues that your audience is struggling with and how to position your brand as the no-brainer solution, you have a clear understanding of what your audience needs to be successful. You also have a better understanding of what you need to do to be successful in the short and long term.
You won’t feel the need to jump on every new trend, product, or marketing strategy because that isn’t what your people need from you to get what they want. You’re able to stay true to your brand values and vision while avoiding sounding like everyone else.
Brand strategy helps your customers and clients buy from you easier.
Let’s get into some stats real quick:
77% of consumers buy from brands who share the same values as they do (HavasGroup, 2019)
Brands in this day have to stand for something, and you have to make that known.
For example, gone are the days when people didn’t care about where companies got their materials, stand on certain cultural topics, or impact the environment. When you relate to your audience on something more than just needing your product or service, they begin to trust you more.
And the more that they trust you, the easier making a purchase or saying yes becomes.
The things the brand stands for and stands against are foundational elements of brand strategy. If the brand doesn’t align itself with its consumers on something of substance, people are less likely to purchase or work with you.
Consistent presentation of a brand has seen to increase revenue by 33% (Lucidpress, 2019)
People want consistency: in their relationships, friendships, daily routines, and from the brands they spend their money with. Brand consistency is making sure that the way your brand presents itself is consistent across every touchpoint. We’re talking through it’s visuals, messaging, image, etc. If you find yourself changing your visuals often, rebranding often, switching up your message, switching up your brand voice: your audience will see you as being all over the place and untrustworthy.
On the flip side, if you provide a unified front, from the moment they find you on social media all the way down to how you talk in your emails – they learn what to expect from you.
And that builds trust and reliability.
How much does brand strategy cost?
Just like anything in the creative world, the saying “you get what you pay for” still applies here. We all have budgets so here are some general ranges you can use to get a better picture of what brand strategy costs.
First, let’s get some definitions out of the way and set some context for these numbers.
Just because a brand designer designs logos and all of that good stuff, doesn’t mean that they offer brand strategy. Not every brand designer does web design, and those that do don’t always have an in-depth process. There are also some brand strategists that don’t do design at all. Their businesses are run more like consultancy firms. They may help you find a designer (or they may leave that up to you) to craft your visual identity.
Here at The Fourth House Co., our entire studio is built on the idea that any logos or graphics designed without intention and strategy are complete wastes of time.
That’s why every single project has a brand strategy phase. For the sake of this exercise, let’s talk about how much does brand strategy cost working with someone that does the design and the strategy.
$0 – $2,000:
You’re mostly getting just the design without much strategy or depth to it at this price range. These are going to be very new designers that are freelancing or designers you find on Upwork or Fiverr. The extent of the strategy done here is usually a questionnaire. Not much thought is put into the longevity and uniqueness of the identity.
$3,000 – $8,000:
Towards the bottom of this range is where you can start working with a brand strategist that only does strategy. Depending on your business and industry the cost can definitely go up. Towards the top of this range is where you get into the range of working with an experienced designer that has a well-developed and tested brand strategy process.
$8,000 – $15,000:
This is a solid budget range if you’ve been in business for a while and are ready to stand out in your niche and position yourself as an authority in your industry.
Designers/strategists in this area are experienced and will spend considerable amounts of time:
- Researching your industry
- Researching your competitors
- Interviewing past clients and potential clients
- Working on brand messaging, and so much more
You’re working with a decently sized design firm in this range. They’re going deeper with their research, have teams of brand strategists and designers, and may even have some copywriters on staff.
Who should invest in brand strategy?
Here are my recommendations:
If your business is brand new:
If you aren’t able to invest at least $3,000 at the minimum, you’re better off designing your brand yourself. And I know that can sound a little crazy, and here’s why.
When you’re spending less than $3k on brand design (not brand strategy, just talking logo design), there is a very high chance you’re going to outgrow that identity in a few years. That means spending more money fixing the problems that the brand identity you previously paid for was supposed to fix.
That’s an easier pill to swallow when you design the logos yourself. All you really invested was your time.
If you have a more established business (with healthy profit margins):
You should budget about in that $5k – $15k range depending on the size of your business and what your business does. Keep in mind that brand strategy and design for eCommerce businesses are going to be more in-depth and more costly.
I hope that can give you a good idea of how much brand strategy costs and how you can prepare your business for it.
What does a brand strategy include?
To further answer the question of how much does brand strategy cost, let’s break down some typical components that a brand strategy package would include.
At the core of it, a strong brand strategy includes two large components.
The strategy session/workshop
This is a meeting or a series of meetings where the strategist discusses each aspect of the brand with you while asking questions.
This will help them with their post-call research and analysis. There’s no set of questions that everyone asks, and each strategist runs these workshops in a different way.
However, the purpose of them is the same: learning more about the brand’s goals, values, vision, voice, personality, etc. from the people closest to it. From there, your strategist is able to do further research and analysis to fill in the remaining components of the brand strategy document.
The brand strategy document
This document serves as your guiding light or plan of attack when it comes to growing your brand. It’s something you should reference frequently – it’s a living and breathing piece of work that keeps you aligned with your brand goals, message, personality, and visual identity.
How this document is structured also varies from person to person, but here are the most commonly included components/sections:
Mission, Vision, Values, and Purpose:
Basically laying out:
- Why the brand exists and what its purpose is outside of making money.
- What the brand is committed to doing everyday to make the world better as a whole (this is the mission).
- Where/how does the brand see itself evolving into over the next 3 years and beyond (this is the vision).
- What does the brand stand for, what does it stand against, what does it hold dear, and what will it never compromise on?
This section digs into how you want your target audience to see and remember your brand. This consists of three subsections:
- Target Audience: the people you want to appeal too, their demographics, their psychographics, and their behaviors.
- Competitors: digging into what options consumers already have in the market and identifitying any gaps your brand can fill.
- Differentiators: nailing down what makes your brand different than the current options in the market. This section also digs into how the brand’s services/products can be positioned to highlight that difference as much as possible.
While the previous sections focus on the internal and the intangibles of your brand (things that people can’t necessarily touch), the expression section deal with the more tangible pieces.
Character, Voice & Personality:
If you want to make deep connections with people and have an impact on their lives, the brand needs a personality just like a human being does. Through your character and personality deep dive, you’ll start to shape the brand’s behaviors, mannerisms, and other personality traits.
I know how foolish that may sound when you are the only person running your business. However, going through this exercise is going to make it easier for you to write copy for your business. You’ll be able to hire someone else (like a VA, social media manager, etc.) to write copy for you that’s aligned with your already established voice.
Core Message and Brand Story:
Your core message is the one idea that you’re consistently delivering to your audience about your brand It covers the brand’s uniqueness and why choosing the brand is a no-brainer choice. The core message is a crucial piece of your brand strategy, and you can only understand and develop it once you’ve gone through all of the other components previously discussed.
Having a unique and authentic core message is so important because without it you sound like everyone else, and you end up not saying anything at all.
The visual section of your brand strategy goes into the actual tangible pieces in your brand’s toolkit. These are the graphic elements that are used on marketing materials, websites, printed materials, etc. Many people believe that “branding” is made up of entirely just this section.
However, so much more work has to be done for any visual to truly be unique and on-brand.
- How much does brand strategy cost? That’s gonna depend on a few factors and your budget.
- When you work with someone that does brand strategy, you’ll need a starting budget of at least $3,000 to make any sort of long-lasting impact on your business.
- If you’re a brand new business, investing that sort of money into a business that may or may not work out, in the long-run, is a gamble, so it’s better for you to work with a brand strategist first, then develop some DIY logo solutions until you can invest more.
If you’re looking for an experienced brand designer and strategist that specializes in building human-centered brands that make money AND change their customers’ lives, apply to work with us here, and let’s talk.
INSIDE THE THOUGHTS OF A BRAND STRATEGIST & DESIGNER
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I'm Ashleigh Keith, a creative problem solver for woman led brands that prefer to cultivate relationships instead of the perfect Instagram photo. I use my background in Psychology to develop human-centered brands for women that want to do more than just run a business - they want to make a greater impact on the world around them.
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