If you Google search “how much should you spend on branding?” you’ll get quite a range of answers. Agencies will make it confusing as they each view branding and marketing different from one another… and from you. The age, size, desired growth, location, competitiveness, and industry of your organization all play a role in how much you should spend. But is there a general rule of thumb or some principles we can abide by so we know where to begin? I think so, and if you treat your business like a person the answer is quite simple to figure out.
I want you to answer this question: Within a 24-hour day, on average, how many hours should a person spend on their physical appearance? Please take a second to think about it. Some of you may say that all 24-hours dictate your physical appearance, and though I applaud you for that, for the sake of this argument let’s think about the time spent only on hygiene, physical activity, and your diet. Would you say 30 minutes? An hour? 2 to 3 hours? Would you say more?
Since 1 hour is about 4% of a 24-hour day, if you said 1.5 – 3 hours to the question above, I would suggest that you consider budgeting about 6% – 12% of your revenue for branding and marketing. If you said a higher number, scoot that percentage up. Why? Because you understand what it takes for a person to be physically fit, healthy and visually presentable. Some of you may not be doing it on a personal level, but you know what it takes. If we believe our business is like a person, why would we treat it any different?
Though scripture does not talk heavily about taking care of yourself physically, we can conclude it is on God’s heart, as he abides within it. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and 6, Paul talks about how our bodies are a temple of God, and if one destroys it, God will destroy that person. In Ephesians 5:28-29, Paul says,
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”
“Nourishes and cherishes it.” That may look different to each of us, but the reality is, we need to take care of our bodies. Now do you believe the business you are operating is the Lord’s, or is it yours? If it’s the Lords, how much more should you take care of it?
Now, does the formula above apply for a startup? It depends on what kind of capital you have backing you up. For startups that do not have that type of financial support, think of them like a newborn baby. And just like a baby, you don’t throw them into the gym and work on their physical appearance. Of course, they need a name to identify who they are, but most of your time and energy is spent nurturing and maturing them until adulthood, helping them figure out who they are, why they’re here and what they’re made to do. Only then should they really consider focusing on their physique/visual appearance. The rate of physical change for a child dramatically shifts once they mature.
Same goes with your business. When starting up, don’t invest a lot on your visual appearance (logo, website, video, etc) as you’re still figuring out your business model and your product offering. The number of changes you will have within the first few years will be dramatic. Regardless, you still need to get these things done, but be frugal about it – don’t waste time and money, spend a minimal amount. Figure out the business and then invest the percentage you’ve determined in your mind on visually communicating (marketing) your brand once it’s matured.
Can you break away from this formula? Of course. As stated earlier, there are a lot of factors in determining your budget for branding and marketing. And just like an individual looking to transform their body in a major way, you too will need to commit time, resources, and finances to transform your business if you’re looking to see some serious gains. Know that it can happen. Believe that it can happen. Take a step of faith and trust the Lord in making it happen. He’s more interested in growing you than building a business.