Designing a branding budget can seem like an incredibly daunting task. After all, there are so many things to consider, and the competition you’re likely up against is often quite fierce.
If you are operating with tight margins, or even if you are simply planning to expand and need to figure out a budget that works well within a certain limit, take a look at our advice on the branding tasks to save on and the ones you’re still better off spending more money on.
Market research: save or splurge?
The first step in building a brand will often involve doing some extensive market research. This will serve as the basis for making most of your later business and marketing decisions. It involves answering questions like what products or services to offer, to whom, through which channels, at what price, and so on.
And here we arrive at a bit of a fork in the road.
If you decide to splurge on this item and hire an agency to do this research for you, it might end up costing a really pretty penny indeed. On the other hand, if you do it yourself, you might miss some very big opportunities, or you may fail to notice something that can help or hinder you later down the line.
Depending on how market and business and research savvy you yourself actually are, you can choose to save here, or you can also choose to pay a decent amount to ensure this step is performed correctly.
You can, of course, section your research out and hire a freelancer to do each section for you. For example, keyword research, competitor research, social media research, secret shoppers, focus groups, can all be executed by an individual or a group. Once they finish their bit, you can hire someone to interpret the data and make predictions, or you can even analyze the data yourself.
The first thing that comes to mind when we say branding is most often – a brand logo. Just think of the most popular brands on the planet and their logos: Nike, Apple, Coca Cola – you instantly recognize all of them precisely because their logos and brand colors have become so popular and ever-present.
However, you don’t need to spend a fortune on designing a logo that will be just as enduring and recognizable. Any logo you come up with has the chance to become just as popular if you do your marketing right. What the logo itself is will not matter as much, as long as it makes sense and is aligned with your brand message.
You can find hundreds of very creative and imaginative designers online who can help you design a logo that is creative, matches what you want your brand to stand for, but that will also not cost you an arm and a leg. Younger designers who are just starting out can often demand lower prices, which does in no way mean the quality of their work is anything less than amazing.
Here are some logo examples to get you started on the process.
Domain name: save if you can
Depending on the name you have chosen for your business, the domain name you are looking to purchase may cost you more or less, and there really is no way to know beforehand.
When you start coming up with a brand name, that is before you actually register it, trademark it, create a logo or begin any other design process, do some online research and find a domain name that you can afford, and that is as close to your brand name as possible. When we say “as close as,” we don’t mean “use a weird spelling.” For example, if your brand name is Medusa, you can choose a domain name like getmedusa.com, which has your brand name and makes sense.
Always make sure to choose .com or country-specific TLDs, if you can, as anything in the realm of .info and .net might come off as less reliable.
Website building and design: save
You can easily build your website with an affordable website builder (like WordPress) either by yourself or by hiring a freelancer who can set things up for you at an affordable price. You don’t have to have a completely custom website designed right from the start, as it really won’t make that big of a difference.
All you need to do is make sure the website is fast, smooth, easy on the eyes, working properly, and that all the SEO elements are in place – again something you can hire a freelancer for at a reasonable price, instead of working with an agency.
You can check out examples of how a website with an affordable theme and design can look – and remember that you can tweak a lot of the visuals, no matter which theme you choose.
Website images: save + splurge
One of the more important elements of your branding will be the images you choose, and here you can both save and splurge.
All of the images featured on your service and product pages, as well as your homepage and sales pages should be custom. You can use stock photos as your base, but these are the images that will define your brand so they should be unique in order to stand out. You can easily find a designer who can make custom images for you at a reasonable price.
On the other hand, if needed you could use stock images for blog posts. That’s because blog posts aren’t generally as important for branding purposes and people are used to seeing stock images on them. Always choose a reputable website when buying stock photos, though. You want to make sure the images are licensed and the authors properly credited.
A good example of a site that combines stock photos and original images is Savvy Sleeper. The site uses some stock images on their blog, but they also created some original images to make their branding stand out.
Website copy: splurge
Finally, the one item of branding you should definitely splurge on is website copy and content. While you may think that you can again hire a freelancer at a modest price to type out all the words you need to make your brand a success (and while you certainly may be able to find a brilliant copywriter at a low price), you are much better off opting to splurge on this item.
Your copy is what will ultimately do a lot of the selling and a lot of the establishing your brand as a big player in your industry. And poorly written copy is just not what you should be after. You might end up with copy that is totally okay, but that doesn’t work with your target audience. Or copy that fails to convey your message properly. Or copy that just reads badly, and then you have to spend more time and money on getting it right.
The web is full of talented and creative copywriters who won’t even demand that high of a price so as to be completely unaffordable, who will do a marvelous job at writing copy for you that will help you achieve all of your branding and marketing goals. Go for one of them, instead of the cheaper (and less good) writing you can also easily find.
Hopefully, these tips will help you figure out a branding budget that works with the limits you have at your disposal, and manage to attract just the kinds of clients you are looking for.