How to develop an accurate rebranding budget in two key phases

How to develop an accurate rebranding budget in two key phases



If your company is considering a rebrand, you probably already have a strong idea of what you hope to achieve from the transition. Whether you’re headed toward a merger or simply ready to update your organization’s brand to reflect your current positioning, you already have a firm handle on your business objectives. But figuring out the actual cost of rebranding? That’s another story.

Your ability to craft the right budget is critical to the success of your rebrand, from initial approval to implementation. But the reality is that building an accurate rebranding budget is no small feat. To do it well, you must go beyond marketing to adopt a truly global view of your organization’s operations. And you must understand the far-reaching implications of brand change as they relate to your specific firm. The complexity — and the stakes — are high.

Unfortunately, organizations that attempt to go it alone often fall on the sword of their own lack of understanding about what goes into a rebranding budget. By working with a seasoned guide to create an accurate and optimized rebrand, you can avoid this project-threatening misstep.

What goes into a rebranding budget

Before we touch on the various parts of a rebranding budget, it’s important to note that any rebrand should go through two separate budgeting phases.

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Phase one: scenario planning and cost estimates

Phase one consists of scenario planning – meaning creating options for how the rebrand could take shape. The goal is to begin to understand what’s possible given the level of investment and the timing. This initial phase is typically part of the executive team’s decision-making process for a proposed rebrand. It’s the marketing team’s chance to give the C-suite an idea of what to expect in terms of a rebrand’s cost — and even ROI.

The output of the scenario-planning phase is a cost estimate, not an actual budget. A cost estimate is a high-level version of a budget that uses a sampling of representative data as well as benchmarking to make informed assumptions about what a particular rebrand will cost. It wouldn’t make sense to go to the trouble of hammering out a precise rebranding budget before you get the green light to move forward with the project. But well-considered cost estimates are crucial for getting the green light in the first place.

The scenario-planning phase is also your organization’s opportunity to explore various rebranding expenses, timelines, and rollout strategies to see how they compare from a budgeting standpoint. Even if your organization comes to the table with an idea of what it wants to spend on a rebrand, you still have freedom and flexibility to explore various approaches within those funding parameters.

There’s no one right way to approach a rebrand. However, when organizations put together their own rebranding budgets, they often don’t realize how many different options are available to them. For example, you might decide to roll out a rebrand over one year or five years. This decision will impact the market’s experience of your brand transition as well as your budget. But both timelines are theoretically possible.

When BrandActive engages in this process, we take representative samples of our clients’ assets in order to scale our projections. We leverage our database of two decades’ worth of benchmarking information to forecast final costs with a high degree of accuracy. And we help clients tease out a variety of cost scenarios to identify the one that best meets their business, marketing, and financial objectives. Even better? Our clients’ ultimate budgets never exceed the cost estimates we prepare for them.

Phase two: budgeting

Once your rebranding project’s scenario and cost estimate are approved, it’s time to drill down and build an actual budget. This is where the rubber meets the road. While estimates and approximations are acceptable during scenario planning, budgets are all about certainty so require meticulous planning. Examples of the details your rebranding budget should include are:

  • A detailed accounting of the costs to transition all branded assets throughout your organization, including any permitting and installation costs as well as manufacturing prices
  • The cost of all brand development work with your creative agency
  • All legal and regulatory costs associated with rebranding
  • resources to manage the transition, whether external partners like BrandActive or an internal team with rebranding experience

When you bring BrandActive into the fold, we take the lead in gathering all the necessary details — from inventory counts to vendor price quotes — and formulate a bulletproof budget to guide your rebrand.

The challenge of creating an accurate rebranding budget

Developing an accurate budget is critical to the success of your rebrand. With a well-conceived rebranding budget, you can secure the necessary funding to move your rebrand forward — as well as credibility among senior management. In addition, your budget can help you to set expectations for a rebrand within your organization. Finally, in an era where everyone is being asked to do more with less, a detailed budget can help your team make informed adjustments and tradeoffs in your rebranding plan.

But rebranding budgets are notoriously difficult for organizations to put together on their own.

For one thing, most marketers don’t have experience building a rebranding budget. And they simply can’t know what they don’t know.

Of course, if you are like most experienced marketing executives, you are well aware of what assets reside in marketing operations. But the information you will need to create a realistic rebranding budget extends far beyond marketing and into every corner of your organization. To prepare a realistic rebranding budget, you must take a deep dive into your organization’s branded asset portfolio, as well as your operational cycles and vendor relationships.

In addition, the average marketer doesn’t have experience putting together various rebranding scenarios in order to identify the right-fit budget (and associated rebranding strategy). If you haven’t done it before, it’s hard to understand the degree to which individual variables that impact a rebranding budget, such as time and quality, can be manipulated while still achieving the desired end-state. Weighing the trade-offs is also part of the process. For example, to afford the most impactful signage, you may decide to use less extensive vehicle wraps.

The benefits of partnering with an expert to build the right rebrand budget

Working up a rebrand budget is a major endeavor. But it’s made significantly easier with expert help from a rebrand implementation partner like BrandActive. When you partner with BrandActive, you can be confident that your organization will:

  • Thoroughly explore a range of rebranding scenarios and their respective costs
  • Create an accurate and detailed rebranding budget that meets your financial objectives and constraints (such as CapEx versus OpEx expenditures)
  • Make rebranding decisions based on sound budgeting information
  • Complete your rebranding project within your desired budget
  • Gain long-lasting efficiencies along the way by streamlining operational activities and rationalizing branded assets and vendor portfolios

Want to learn more about how BrandActive can help your organization create a bulletproof rebranding budget?