How Much Does Branding Cost? The Same as a Car

By Jonny Prest

You know that good branding is the art of moulding perception – it’s the thing that can set you apart from the pack. But when you’re busy building something that the world hasn’t seen before, things are happening fast. 

You want to capture the power of your new product or service, but you don’t know where to begin. So you make do.

There’s the website that’s been put together in an afternoon. A slide deck constructed from a template you found online. A logo created by your best friend’s cousin’s wife. Instead of building a place of your own in the world, you’re doing the branding equivalent of living on a friend’s sofa.

It’s exhausting and yet doesn’t quite cut the mustard. And so, the inevitable question arises: how much does professional branding cost? 

Well, we’re here to lay a surprisingly simple proposition on the table. The idea is that your branding costs the same as a car. 

If Your Brand is a Car then its Purpose is the Engine

Imagining your brand through this analogy may be unconventional, but consider that your brand is the vehicle that drives you to achieve your objectives. Let’s break it down:

Fuel: Wants

Your want is the fuel of your brand, it’s the catalyst that set you off on your business journey.

Engine: Your Purpose

Your purpose is the engine of your brand. It’s the thing that you stand for that’s bigger than your products or services that pushes you forward.

SatNav: Vision

Your vision acts as a SatNav, providing a line of sight and guiding your strategic direction.

Interior and Safety: Your Culture

Hey, who doesn’t love a heated seat. It’s important that your employees are supported and have a comfortable ride along the way! 

Exterior and Body: Brand Image

Your brand image is the exterior and body of your car, it’s about how your brand is perceived by your customers and how you make an initial impression. 

Driver: The Customer

At the heart of your brand is your customer. Keep them firmly in the driving seat at all times. 

Naturally, the bigger and more ambitious your objectives, the bigger and more advanced the car needs to be, and the further you need to go, the faster you need it to travel. So how can you get your brand to take you to your destination without it falling apart along the way? 

5 Key Considerations When Building a Brand 

Your brand goes way beyond the tangible. It encompasses more than your logo, name and brand colours. It’s easy to get caught up on what hue of orange to use for your logo, but first, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. 

Brand Strategy: What car do you want? 

So, you’ve made a decision to get a new car. Now what? At this point, you think carefully about what you really need and want from it. You think carefully about where you’re going to drive it and how you’re going to use it. Do you need a cheap runaround to get the job done or do you want an impressive model that will get the neighbours talking?

This same thinking can be applied to your brand strategy. Your strategy is a framework that lays out the who, what, when, and why of your organisation’s communication of its brand, and it’s the most critical component in building something meaningful for the long haul. 

Brand Visual Identity: How far does it need to travel? 

What terrain does your brand need to navigate? Does it need to perform brilliantly on digital platforms alone, or will your brand need to take customers on an omnichannel journey? Your brand visual identity needs to be robust and consistent enough to ensure a smooth ride across all touchpoints. 

Branding: Building the car 

Branding is how all of the points above translate into ownable, identifiable marks that make you stand out in the product landscape. It’s all about how the look, tone, feel, and even sound makes your brand distinct and memorable. 

Brand Management: Managing and maintenance 

As any good mechanic will tell you – it’s much better to schedule regular check-ups and tune-ups to catch any surprises before they turn into issues. As businesses grow and change, it’s important for their brands to reflect the current market. Nobody wants to do business with a company that appears behind the curve!  

How Much Will My New Brand Set Me Back?

As with cars, branding services can be broken down into a few different categories depending on your needs. Here’s our roundup of the basic tiers: 

The Second-Hand Citroen Saxo | Budget Spec | £550 – £2,000

In this price bracket, you’ll find the used Citroen Saxos of the branding world. They’re super affordable and functional – but here’s the catch – they’re ten a penny. If you need a visual identity, and fast, you’ll find just what you need here. 

  • A good option for those getting started in business 
  • You’ll likely receive a simple logo and identity with no frills
  • You’ll need to keep spending money on it to keep it roadworthy

The Second-Hand VW Golf | Low Spec | £2k – £10k

This bracket is certainly a step in the right direction, and you’ll be able to find some solid freelancers/small agencies that will keep your brand ticking over the next couple of years. 

  • Gain entry-level positioning in the market
  • Use across the basic touchpoints
  • It will last a couple of years until it needs money spent on it 
  • Great little runner but you wouldn’t want to turn up to a networking event in it! 

The Latest Ford Focus | Mid Spec | £10k – £25k

Reliable and sensible, the solutions within this bracket are like trusty Ford Focuses. Something you can grow with (plus the occasional tweak). 

  • You can begin to compete within your market
  • You can expect to see an increase in growth and turnover
  • It will incorporate a wide range of outputs and touchpoints
  • A safe and steady option that will grow with you throughout your business journey

The Jaguar F Pace | High Spec | £25k – £75k

If you’re looking for something that’s extremely well-engineered with a powerful engine and luxury finishes, then this bracket is for you.

  • Experience growth and retain talent
  • Expect to be positioned as an industry leader
  • Enjoy a top of the range professional image across continents and markets

(Now You’re Just Showing Off!) The Luxury Sports Car | Sky-High Spec | £75k – £100k

Welcome to the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS of branding. At this point, you’re no longer merely car shopping, you’re buying a monster truck that will obliterate everything in its path.

  • Achieve the position of category king
  • Have an award-winning identity 
  • Smart and intelligent design system which works on all media and platforms
  • Iconic and memorable
  • Leverage identity over all competitors 

Buying vs. Leasing

Who owns a design, you or the designer? It’s easy to assume that once a project is wrapped up, you own the full rights to it. However, that’s not necessarily the case.

More often than not your contract or licence should cover all of your needs – but in some circumstances, you may want full ownership to be transferred to you. We say, always double-check with your designer.

Go Electric! Incorporate Sustainability Into Your Brand

As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, your company’s green brand image is becoming a prevalent factor in whether a customer favours your business over others. After all, if choosing between two products, wouldn’t you prefer the one that cares about you and wants to protect the world you live in?

Ready to Take the Wheel?

And so, in the end, branding is just like buying a car. Why? Because your brand is a vehicle that has the power to take you to some amazing places. And while you won’t win any track days in a used Citroen Saxo, you also don’t need a Porsche to pop to the shops.

Think about what will connect you to your audience and where you want to go, but above all, do it with purpose. 

Can we see you again sometime? We’d love to have a chat about how your brand can make a difference in the world.


Written in collaboration with Naomi Couper

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