Is Investing In Brand Strategy Worth It?
As a small business owner, trying to build a business on a budget is hard work, especially when you're just starting out. And while you may completely understand the value of a solid brand strategy and visual identity, it is a big investment so hiring a designer can be time consuming and expensive.
Now, as a brand strategist & custom website designer, I understand the true value and ROI of proper brand strategy - but I also know that there are laddered steps every small business can (and should) take to invest wisely while growing their business. So let's talk about it.
Here's my hot-take thoughts on brand strategy: what you need, when you should invest & how, and everything in between.
HERE’S WHAT WE’LL COVER:
Why investing in branding is worth it
The return on investment you’ll get with branding
How branding can increase your revenue and perceived value
How much to invest
How to know when to invest
WHY INVESTING IN BRANDING IS ALWAYS WORTH IT
Before we dive into the value and investment of branding, it’s important to first understand what exactly branding is - because if you come into this with the wrong perception of what it means to build a brand, then you definitely won't understand the value.
According to Jay Baer,
"Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company, with what they actually think about your company. And vice versa."
Your brand is who you are and what your business stands for. Most people identify your brand as your logo, color palette, website, and marketing, but the true strategy behind your brand comes from your brand purpose, mission & vision statement, ideal client personas, differentiation strategy, messaging, personality, and so much more.
It’s about going deeper to discover and refine what you do, who you do it for, and why people will choose to buy from you. It answers the question, "Aside from making money, why do we do what we do?" It’s then, and only then, that the brand visuals: logos, fonts, colors, illustrations, and website can be created in a way that is aligned.
When you look at it this way, you can start to see where the value lies in investing in your brand.
Investing in your brand is investing in the alignment, value, and growth of your business. Every business has a brand - whether they intentionally designed it or not. They are perceived and received in some way, whether it's good or bad. But every business has an opportunity to be intentionally, purposefully and strategically branded and the earlier you get a handle on yours, the better it will be in the long run.
When I talk about investing in branding, I use the word investment for a reason. It’s not just another payment you have to make or business expense to log. It’s a true investment in the foundation and future of your business.
It’s not just paying for something you’ll use in your business like a scheduling app or project management tool. You’re paying for the foundation of your entire business. Investing in your brand is one of the best ways to see growth in your business.
THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT YOU’LL GET WITH BRANDING
The value of establishing a strong foundation for your business is immeasurable. An exceptional brand is built on a solid foundation of a purpose-driven idea, a strong mission & vision, a thoughtful strategy, and defined style. There is a lot of research, data and development that goes into building a strong brand foundation that is a true representation of your business.
Impactful branding is critical in a consumer’s decision-making when it comes to purchasing. A thoughtful brand strategy can (and will) have a huge impact on your audiences' perception of your business and ultimately their decision to purchase from your business. I say it at nauseum, but you need a brand with both beauty AND brains. A business that has a sloppy logo and unprofessional website won’t have the same perceived value as a business with elevated branding and a seamless online experience.
The details matter.
People buy from people. And they want to feel like they are a part of a story, an exceptional experience, something bigger than themselves, and your brand can create that for them.
If your brand is built the right way, it can change the perceived value of your brand and increase your revenue.
When you invest in your brand strategy at any level business, you are more likely to attract the right person and convert them into a loyal customer or client because your brand has been intentionally and strategically built to captivate, connect and convert. When your strategically & authentically aligned with your ideal audience, meeting them where they're at, with the right solution to their problems and pain points, you're able to effortlessly convert them to sales, increase your revenue, and grow your business.
This is the return on your investment.
According to a recent study by Oracle, they surveyed 100 small businesses in all different industries that had hired brand & marketing strategist to redesign & refresh their brand strategy efforts. Of the business polled, they found that an efficient brand strategy may result in a cost ratio of 5:1—that is, $5 generated for every $1 spent, that's 400%. An excellent brand strategy mixed with a thoughtful marketing strategy might see a cost ratio of $10 generated for every dollar spent (10:1) with an ROI of 900%.
HOW MUCH TO INVEST
With such a wide range of investment options out there, it can be hard to figure out exactly how much you should invest in branding to really get your money’s worth. You can get a DIY templated brand design for $39 on Fivrr (please don't) and a custom brand design with a big design agency for $50,000, and everything in between.
When determining how much to spend on your brand strategy, you need to look at more than just the price. You want to consider the value you’re getting, the return on your investment, the experience of your strategist and designer, the results you’ll see, and when you’ll see them.
How much to invest also depends on your specific situation and stage of business. Here's my hot-take:
Most new businesses or brands just starting out shouldn't invest in fully custom brand strategy or website design. That being said, there are times and situations when a brand new business may warrant it - but for the majority of small businesses, it's unnecessary.
The first year of business involves testing, trial and error, learning your audience and industry, and your brand will shift and change as you establish your place in the market. Investing in a semi-custom brand identity and website is the perfect avenue for you. While I would never suggest a DIY kit or Pinteresting your way to a brand design, a semi-custom brand options that is tailored to fit your unique brand without the long design process and hefty price tag is the perfect fit. A good designer who offers this service will learn about the business, the industry and their ideal clients, and guide their customers on the right semi-custom option to fit their needs.
If you’re further along in business and you've established a solid product, service or offering base, have a better concept of your client base, and understand your industry, then it’s time to invest more into your branding so you can elevate your online presence with custom solutions. At this point, you are ready to get serious about your business, hone in on a certain direction, and provide a better brand experience for your audience. At this stage, a custom brand strategy and website would be the right option for you. While there are a ton of different designer types and agency models, picking the right one to fit your needs, budget and timeframe is key. You can learn more about how to pick the right designer for you here.
As far as what to invest, a good rule of thumb is to invest 10% of your yearly income in branding and marketing. So if you make $50,000 a year then you should invest $5,000, if you make $100,000 you should invest $10,000 and so on. This does include all branding and marketing efforts like your brand strategy, brand identity, website, and other digital marketing investments. One year it might just be a custom rebrand while the next year a website overhaul.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU’RE READY TO INVEST
Finding the right time to invest is a very personal decision. It's important for any business to have a strong foundation and beautifully designed brand as soon as you start your business so you can establish your brand in the marketplace from the get-go. Done correctly, this can catapult new-to-market brands and give them the opportunity to grow at a faster rate than brands who don't.
Here's what I recommend:
0 - 2 years: Brands in this category are new to business and focused on creating a product, service or offer to launch. Businesses at this stage are busy working through their business plans, strategizing what they want to do and narrowing down their focus to a specific niche. My recommendation would be to start out with a semi-custom brand and website design built by a professional designer, and pick 1-2 social media marketing platforms + an email marketing platform to promote their business. Give yourself time to discover who your brand is and what areas you want to focus on to put your business in a better position to create a long-lasting, powerful brand. Check out my 1-Week VIP Design Intensives here >>
2 - 5 years: You're a more established brand busy growing your following, refining your products, services and offerings, establishing your niche and ready to take your business to the next level. At this stage, you should work with a designer to develop a custom brand strategy that establishes your brand purpose, mission, vision, core values, takes a deep look at your ideal audience, conducts an in-depth competitive analysis, clarifies your message and brand personality, and combines all of that into a set of brand visuals that aligns with your brand strategy & identity. At this time, you should also invest in a custom website that is thoughtfully designed to match your brand visuals, data-driven & UX/UI designed to attract & convert your audience, and has growth potential to expand as your business expands. Check out my custom brand and web design services here >>
MAKING THE RIGHT INVESTMENT
If you are ready to make this kind of investment for your business, I recommend doing your homework first. Consider your budget, what you’re getting for your investment and what is included in the package you’re investing in. Hiring an experienced brand designer will help you to develop a strong brand foundation that will serve your business for years to come.
Instead of just getting a logo and some graphics created for you to throw up on your website, you will get hours of their undivided attention to dig deep into your business and design specifically for your brand and mission. They will help you develop the important aspects of your brand and get to know you so that they understand your business and can translate that into a design.
When considering a designer, think about where you’re at in your business, what your goals are, and what you need to do to get there. Check out the resources below to help you find the right path for you and your brand:
Looking for the right designer for you? Read this >>
Want to figure out your brand's positioning strategy? Read this >>
New to business? Check out my VIP Design Intensives to help you get your business up & running fast, without the big $$$ investment, long design process or overwhelm. Check out this service here >>
Ready for a custom brand strategy & website designed to take your business to the next level and dominate your market? Check out my custom brand strategy & web design package here >>