Nov 24, 2020

How We Price Branding

By: Josh Dougherty


Ah, branding. We all know it’s important. Just look at how much money gets spent on it. Some organizations blink their eyes and realize they’ve shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars on a branding project, and still aren’t sure how to implement it. 

You don’t want to end up there, and we don’t want you to either. If you’re considering pursuing a branding project, we think that the best way for you to get started is to know what you’re going to get, what it’s really worth, and what it’s going to cost. 

How much does branding cost? That’s the purpose of this blog post: to walk you through the process of how we price branding. We’ll take a look at the 4 stages of our branding process, how we can adapt our approach to fit your budget, and how we work with you to make the most of your spending.

The Cost and Benefit of Our Accelerated Branding Process

The typical brand development process lasts anywhere from 12-24 months. And that's before any implementation work starts. Call us crazy, but we just don’t think it needs to take that long. In fact, we know it doesn’t. Every brand project we undertake is completed in 6-8 months. Leaving you time, and energy, to introduce your brand to the world.

A longer branding process might include 6 months for research and competitive analysis and another 6 to develop initial concepts. Then tack on another extended period to finalize the brand identity and develop a visual identity to match. 

Our plan of attack looks different. We use a workshop-driven process to research and identify the core strengths and differentiators that your brand already has. Then we build on those core concepts, put it out into the world for real people to interact with, and fine-tune it in real time. With that momentum, you become more competitive in a matter of months, not years. 

An accelerated branding project with A Brave New includes the following 4 phases: 

  1. Brand research
  2. Brand identity
  3. Messaging and visuals
  4. Implementation


When we partner with a client on a branding project, we ask them to commit to the first 3 phases: research, identity, and messaging and visuals. The base cost for these 3 phases is $75,000. That cost can scale up based on the complexity of your organization, how many stakeholders you have, and other factors. We’ll also tailor the process to fit within your budget, whether you choose a more conservative approach or decide to make a bigger investment.

Phase 4 is a little different. You have the option to reserve our time for implementation up front, or to hold off on that until the first 3 phases are complete. If you choose to let us take care of implementation for you, the most basic engagement will cost at least $20,000, but it will require a good amount of heavy lifting by your team. Beyond that, prices can vary significantly based on the specific needs we’ve identified together during the branding process. If, on the other hand you prefer to handle implementation internally, we’ll create a full implementation plan to guide you through it, which costs $5,000.

Before we dive into each of these phases, let’s talk about one of the questions we get the most often: 

  • Q: Do I really need all 4 phases? 
  • A: Yes, we think so. And we’ll tell you why. 

It comes down to this: we want you to get results out of your investment in your brand. And when you start subtracting phases, those results just won’t materialize. Here’s what we mean: 

  • It’s not very helpful to do brand research if it never gets translated into a brand identity. 
  • You can’t create a brand identity without understanding how your customers, prospects, and employees perceive your brand. 
  • Without messaging and visuals, the research and the brand identity won’t be expressed clearly and consistently in every piece of communication. 
  • Without implementation, your branding efforts will never sink in, and your organization will end up right back where you began. It typically takes 18 months to 3 years of consistent reinforcement for customers and prospects to internalize the brand, understand it, and begin to repeat it back to you. 

Still eyeing one of those phases and thinking, “Yeah, but do I really need THAT one?” We get it. Let’s talk about what happens in each phase and how it contributes to the final result.  

Learn more about how our accelerated branding process works by reading our free eBook 

two-men-talking_blue-blobPhase 1: Brand Research

The process begins with homework, and it is SO much more fun than it sounds (at least for us, anyway. We love this stuff). This is where we conduct a quantitative survey, in-depth interviews with your team and your clients, a comprehensive audit of  your current brand and collateral, and a competitive analysis.  

But wait. You know your company and your customers pretty well already. So can we skip this step and get to the good stuff?  

The truth is, everybody has blind spots about their organization, their customers, and their competitors. (Even us! Newsflash: we enlisted an outside expert to help us with our brand. A fresh set of eyes is always useful to identify challenges and come up with new strategies, no matter how much know-how you have.) 

Here’s another reason why it’s good to involve a third party during the research phase: when we ask questions of your team and your customers, they’ll give us different answers than they would give you. In the end, we’re here to help you get a fuller view of your brand as it currently stands, and where your greatest opportunities are. 

Pricing Levers For This Phase

We can adjust the price of the research phase by scaling at certain key points: 

  • Number of interviews: We can reduce the number of interviews we conduct, depending on your needs. 
  • Depth and complexity of competitive analysis: We can do a comprehensive review of your competitors’ sites, products, services, and social presence, or we can just review their websites and basic visual elements like color scheme. 

photo-carPhase 2: Brand Identity

In this phase, we build the unique core elements of your brand. This is where things begin to take shape, where we identify the essence of what sets you apart and how your customers will remember you.  This phase is the foundation on which we build messaging, visuals, and implementation. 

This ideation process leads to a clearly defined brand that expresses what is unique about your organization, and then provides a framework so you can express that uniqueness across your marketing, sales, internal processes, and company culture. 

We’ll conduct a series of workshops with you to co-create your brand identity. These workshops are essential to how we approach the branding process, because they give all stakeholders an early opportunity to express ideas, opinions, and concerns together in the same room. At this stage, everyone works to identify the initial concepts behind the brand. Then, we refine those concepts into a robust identity and use structured review rounds to hone them further. 

In a more traditional branding process, everyone works independently. Ideation, creation, and review take place in a vacuum. But that approach requires a lot of added time and cost to be built in to the process  — time for stakeholders to get on the same page, time for the branding partner to course-correct. Because our process is more collaborative, we don’t waste time or resources. 

Pricing Levers For This Phase

We can flex the price of the brand identity phase based on: 

  1. Number of workshops conducted: If you have a small team of stakeholders, having a smaller number of highly focused workshops can bring down the cost of this phase. 
  2. Number of review rounds: We can reduce the number of review rounds to whatever is appropriate for the number of stakeholders you have and their levels in your organization.

painting_blue-blobPhase 3: Messaging and Visuals

Now we can start creating the specific guidelines that will ensure consistency and pave the way for implementation. At this stage, we’ll establish core elements like color palette, logo usage, photo guidelines, a messaging platform, and more. 

In the more traditional branding process, this phase can take a very long time and come at a high cost. That’s why our secret weapon, the brand identity workshop, is so important. When everyone is aligned right from the start, we’ll be able to head in the right direction and create  messaging and  visuals more quickly and affordably. Pair that with a really strong design and review structure, and you’ll be surprised how straightforward this phase is. 

Pricing Levers For This Phase

There’s a lot of cost flexibility in this phase, depending on what your creative needs are. Here are some examples: 

  1. Complexity of style guide: Opting for a simplified style guide will bring cost down. 
  2. Scale of illustration and icon libraries:  These visual libraries are nice to have, but an exhaustive library of designed visuals isn’t always essential. 
  3. Number of review rounds: Depending on how many stakeholders you have, we can also adjust the number of review rounds in this phase.

teacher-student_blue-blobPhase 4: Implementation

This phase is all about putting your brand into practice.  Implementation of your brand will look different depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of your needs, but the process often includes: 

  • Developing a content strategy 
  • Creating marketing and sales collateral
  • Coaching your marketing and sales teams to express the brand 
  • Working with HR to make sure the brand is integrated in their processes
  • Ensuring that your company's culture is aligned with how you express your brand externally

Whew, that’s a lot of work. But what’s that we hear you say? Your internal team can handle the implementation? Well, yes! But keep in mind that you need to keep up the momentum for 18 months to 3 years before your customers and prospects will start repeating back to you. You'll need to avoid distractions and maintain your stamina. That’s why this is the most perilous stage of the branding process.

We can help, whether it means handling the implementation from start to finish, or serving as  coach and accountability partner. We’ve done this before, and we can help you get your brand fully implemented, and then set up the tools and systems needed to maintain consistency for the long run.

At the outset of the branding process, you’ll have the option to reserve our time to guide your implementation efforts. Once the first 3 phases are complete, we’ll create a custom implementation plan and scope that is tailored to that plan. And you’ll only be billed for the actual work used to execute the plan. 

Pricing Levers For This Phase

Implementation has the most flexibility of any phase, here’s just a few of the options to consider:

  1. Self implementation: We’ll provide you with an implementation plan, which you’ll execute on your own. 
  2. Full implementation: Starting with the implementation plan, we'll handle every step of the implementation in coordination with your internal brand and marketing team, including staff training and meeting facilitation.
  3. Hybrid implementation: As we said, there's lots of flexibility at this stage. We're happy to have your team take on some activities while we contribute on others.
  4. The coaching approach: If your team has the capacity and expertise to implement, but you would like to have us serve as a coach throughout the process, we can support in this way.
And Now, For the Wrap-Up 

We hope that this helped answer your questions about how we price branding and how all the pieces of the process work together. But this is just the start of the  conversation. If you want to talk about your branding challenges, your goals, or your hopes and dreams, we’re here to help!

Learn more about how our accelerated branding process works by reading our free eBook. Download now! 


Don’t miss out, get Brave News now

Join the ABN community and be the first to learn about trends in inbound marketing, branding, and web design.


Take the first step toward a lasting impression

Interested in learning more? We’d love the opportunity to connect. Let’s have a conversation about how ABN can support you in both building a brand that lasts and exceeding your business goals.

Join Us Today – Our insight helps your business grow.