Timing matters: how to build a rebrand budget that meets your organization’s financial needs

Timing matters: how to build a rebrand budget that meets your organization’s financial needs


Patrick Heath

When it comes to preparing a realistic budget for a rebrand, identifying the full list of planned expenses is a top priority. But that’s just the jumping off point. You need to understand where in your organization to look for funding—meaning where will you turn to find the money to pay for converting all branded assets to the new brand identity. And there’s also another, often-overlooked factor that is just as crucial to successfully budgeting for rebrand implementation: timing your spending.

To optimize the rebrand budget, you need a firm grasp of the underlying financial organization. In this instance, “financial organization” refers to the various sources of funding allocated to your rebrand. This includes how those funding sources are structured and any parameters or requirements that come along with them.

As you might expect, not all rebrand budgets are created equal. For example, M&As and divestitures often have a unique budget that is only available for a specific period. Often, that budget will be capitalized as an expense of the transaction, so the goal is to put as many expenditures as qualify into that bucket. In this case, you’d likely want to front-load spending as much as possible.

Properly timing the cadence of a planned rebrand budget’s spend is critical to developing a plan to balance financial requirements with marketing goals for rebrand impact. And catering to fiscal timing requirements without handcuffing marketing in the process? That’s both art and science.

Know the financial requirements of your rebrand

Let’s say you’re in the beginning stages of planning a rebrand. The creative is all in place. You and your team have painstakingly catalogued hundreds of brand touchpoints, from uniforms to signage. You need to account for all of these in the budget to be ready to usher in your new brand identity. At this point, it’s easy to get tunnel vision, with the brand launch date becoming the only timing consideration driving the implementation process.

But that would be a mistake.

Whether you are seeking approval for a rebrand budget from a board or CFO or already have an approved budget in hand, you need to start with an understanding of the financial organization underpinning your rebrand. Doing so should give you a sense of any timing-related concerns you need to be aware of, including:

  • Limited windows of leveragability on any of your underlying budgets, such as a merger or divestiture budget.
  • Whether or not you put the same emphasis on CapEx and OpEx expenditures. In some instances, organizations try to limit the OpEx expenses of a rebrand as they have the biggest impact to the bottom line in the current fiscal year. If that’s the case, you’ll want to work with your CFO organization to see which rebrand expenses can be placed in the CapEx bucket.
  • Leadership’s goals for spreading out the cost of a rebrand.

After assessing which factors impact your rebrand, you can structure your budget in a way that responds to those needs and better serves your organization.

How to create a balanced rebrand budget

Once you know the financial requirements of your rebrand, you can begin to tailor your budget accordingly. The trick is to plan your rebrand budget so that it supports your organization’s financial needs and your marketing objectives as well. The last thing you want is for the requirements of your financial organization to hamstring the overall effectiveness and impact of the rebrand. Meeting both goals will require creative thinking and attention to detail.

First, you’ll want to assess the items in your budget from a marketing perspective to determine which branded assets are needed for Day One of the rebrand rollout and which have more flexibility. For example, as part of the initial rebrand launch, your team may decide it wants to address product names and packaging. If so, you’ll have to do the work to ensure rebranded products can clear customs prior to brand launch. But you may have more flexibility in deciding when to convert all delivery vehicles to the new brand or change the environmental branding in employee cafeterias.

Next, you’ll want to think about each of the major activities that will take place as part of the rebrand and estimate the time needed to complete each one. For example, each stage of the rebrand will include both planning and execution stages. The length of these stages will vary based on a number of factors. Will you need to hire and onboard vendors and subcontractors? How long will it take to manufacture various branded assets?

Once you assess the items in your budget and the timing of various rebrand activities, you can look at ways to spread out the costs to better align your budget with underlying financial objectives. You want to try to prioritize for conversion branded assets that take full advantage of the merger integration budget, if you have one. Any rebrand expenses you can fold into integration budget won’t impact operational earnings or operational profitability.

In working with clients on this issue, our consultants rely on a proprietary system that looks at twenty years of benchmark data. This data informs our cost estimates with respect to CapEx versus OpEx recommendations and provides insight into other factors related to a rebrand budget’s timing. Then we lay out a handful of cost estimate scenarios which demonstrate the different ways that expenses might be spread out over multiple fiscal years. This provides organizations with the information they need to make fiscally responsible implementation decisions which integrate financial and branding objectives.

Want to learn more about our process? We’re happy to talk about how we can help you calibrate your rebrand budget for success.

Related Insights