The client asks: How much will the rebrand cost? Do you know the answer?

The client asks: How much will the rebrand cost? Do you know the answer?



Let’s compare planning a rebrand implementation to the process of building the new beach house of your dreams. You find the perfect island location, design the ideal layout, choose the right flooring and fixtures and paint colors. It’s just right.

But you have no idea what it will cost or how long it will take to build.

If you’re in the business of creating brand identity — large-scale programs for major companies with significant implications — how often do your clients envision that dream house with no sense of budget or timeline?

Rebrand implementation: “what’s it going to cost?”

Rebrand implementation costs can be a major source of frustration for agency teams. And clients, caught up in creating a new brand identity, may be slow to raise the issue. This is understandably a pain point: You fought through a highly competitive RFP process and won the business, you conducted extensive research, developed a strategic identity for the brand, secured board and internal approval… and then someone on the client team asks, “What’s this all going to cost us?”

This delay in accounting for cost and logistics also affects how the new brand lives in the world. Once you hand the standards manual off to the client’s internal marketing team or other creative agencies, you can only hope that the new identity will be executed in the way that your team envisioned for your client.

And if your group has been so focused on getting the creative work approved, when the rebrand launch is imminent, you’ll likely find that the rollout becomes more a matter of what’s possible quickly instead of what’s best for the brand. Business realities inevitably lead to shortcuts and cost-cutting that affect every branded touchpoint, from major signage to employee uniforms.

“What’s it going to cost?” seems a simple enough question. But the answer is deeply complex. And it’s largely outside your purview. Your team can’t possibly know the full scope of the rebrand implementation — how many fleet vehicles, office locations, shipping boxes, business forms, and many things that are not even on anyone’s radar — that need to be updated with the new identity.

Rebranding budget checklist - 7 steps for marketing leaders

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Refining the rebrand project plan: scope and budget

The question of cost is no small matter: Our research tells us that organizations routinely spend 20 to 50 times the cost of brand development to fully implement and introduce their brand to the market.

So, you’ll need help to meaningfully respond to client questions about budget, scope, and timing. BrandActive’s first step when working with clients is to quantify possible scenarios that include the associated accurate cost estimates for different approaches to the brand change. Then, we manage the logistics of rebranding implementation—converting branded assets to the new identity. And we do so in a way that optimizes the brand strategy and design work, and upholds your creative vision. Our approach and rigor helps drive down costs and improving efficiency — ultimately saving clients 10% to 30% of implementation costs.

Over 20-plus years, we’ve developed best-in-class processes, tools, and benchmark data centered around four phases. We interface with your team and the client to scope and assess the brand change, set priorities for the rollout, and establish a budget framework. We can help you and the client plan and prepare for the brand change, set timetables, and choose vendors that can execute the rebrand to your standards. With the right tools to roll out and manage the process, the client can monitor progress and spending. Looking longer term, we can help the marketing team close the rebranding process and maintain the integrity of the identity going forward.

Preserving the integrity of the rebrand, now and ongoing

Project scope and cost estimation is the single highest point of failure in branded asset conversion. Accurately defining the scope brings greater control and clarity to your agency’s engagement with your client. When senior management understands the rebrand implementation budget, they have the information they need to make decisions in real time. You can present them with alternative options and scenarios, so the identity project moves forward. Otherwise, you’ll likely face a series of delayed meetings before the client is ready to make a commitment to the rebranding project.

Stakeholders need reassurances that the brand can, in fact, be manufactured perfectly and cost-effectively across asset classes. In addition to helping you scope and implement the rebrand, we serve as a neutral third party that can provide factual information to validate your work. While supporting your team to overcome the client’s objections and gain consensus, we often uncover additional creative work that the client needs and make an allocation for it during the cost estimation process—making it easy to roll up the design development into the rebrand scope.

It may seem risky to address implementation costs with your client in the early stage of a rebrand, but in our experience, it’s never a deal-breaker. And it’s essential to create alignment on scope. When the CEO and CMO take the branding proposal to their board, directors may balk at a $25 million price tag and instead ask, “What can we do for $15 million?” It’s better to walk into the project with a true sense of the project’s scope and fiscal constraints, rather than have the list of deliverables whittled down over time as cost becomes a concern.

A seamless rollout of the identity your agency developed can elevate your work in the client’s eyes. Without that well-scoped, well-planned, well-managed execution, the company is left with a fragmented brand that sows confusion for customers, investors, and employees. Your team can come up with the smartest name and the ideal logo — but if the brand isn’t fully activated, then what’s the point?