What Does Personal Branding Cost?
The amount you, as an individual professional or entrepreneur, should pay for personal branding just depends. Although it’s certainly understandable why you’re curious how much to pay for personal branding and want a definitive answer, there are some things that need to be considered before we can arrive at an estimate.
These things include getting clear on the definition of personal branding (and what deliverables you’re looking for) to considering what stage you are at in business (just starting out or ready to propel to the next level) and also how fast you wish to see a return on your investment.
What do you mean by personal branding?
Often the reason for large variances in quotes for personal branding from one agency to another is simply that what you will get as a final deliverable is widely different.
Some firms might give you a logo and other identity materials including brand font and colors and call those visual elements your personal brand. Others may take it a step further and help you define the direction for your copy, another essential element.
And then there are others who will collaborate with you and provide full-service personal branding that includes not only the visual components and copywriting, but also defines brand strategy and positioning, and more.
Here are some of the different components that can go into personal branding:
Brand strategy and positioning
- Brand design (style guide, logo, colors, fonts)
- Brand photography
- Brand voice, messaging and copywriting
- Website design
- Website development.
In order to be confident you’re comparing apples to apples, you must get crystal clear on what prospective branding partners mean by personal branding.
When it comes to creating your personal brand, you have several options. You can do it yourself (DIY) from start to finish, outsource various components to different providers or partner with a full-service agency.
Let’s take a look at each option to find the best fit for your needs.
Some entrepreneurs determine that building the components of their personal brand themselves is what’s best for their businesses. Keep in mind that while you might not be paying an invoice for someone else to develop your personal brand, there is still a cost to the DIY option.
In order to go the do-it-yourself route, you must have time available to invest in learning and to tinker with new-to-you software and tools if you have never built a personal brand before or if it is not your specialty.
If the other demands of your business put off your brand and website-building activities, you need to assess how many sales and other opportunities you will miss out on by not having your personal brand developed and deployed. Those opportunity costs can add up.
A DIY option is usually best for individuals who aren’t under time pressure to see a return on investment quickly or for those who might not yet be clear on what business they are truly in and may still be in the midst of experimenting with their service offerings and unique position in the marketplace.
To determine if this route is cost-effective for you, calculate how much an hour of your time is worth and how many hours you will need to cobble together the various components of your personal brand.
For example, $100 per hour X 100 hours = $10,000
But the true cost isn’t only your time, it also includes the business you might be missing out on when you are focused on building your personal brand and have no extra time to devote to building your business.
As with most DIY projects, it often takes longer to complete going solo than if a professional team of personal branding experts is supporting you. There’s also the potential that the final outcome will not be as polished or effective as it might be if experts are at the helm.
Be aware that this could make even your happy clients hesitant to refer you to their associates if your personal brand and website aren’t indicative of the high-caliber products and services you offer.
Outsource each component
Another option to consider when you wish to develop your personal brand is to outsource each element to professionals with expertise in each area. For example, you could find someone to develop your brand strategy and contract with another expert for website design and so on.
In this scenario, without a creative director to ensure consistency and cohesiveness of the products completed by the individual providers or a project manager to ensure everyone is getting their respective parts done by the established deadline, these responsibilities would fall to you.
One of our clients at Personal Brand Agency decided to go this route before she began to work with us. What she found when she outsourced each component was not only the additional work she had to recruit and oversee each provider as creative director and project manager, but she ultimately wasn’t happy with the final result, which wasn’t cohesive or authentic to her.
She especially felt the disconnect in the copy that was delivered to promote her brand. It was definitely not in her voice. To top it off, she didn’t have the control she needed to make ongoing updates and changes to her website herself.
Prospects told her that she was not what they'd expected based on the impression they’d gotten from her website—a surefire way to know that a personal brand has missed the mark.
While this option wasn’t a good fit for our client (which is why she turned to us afterward to handle her rebranding), it might be the right option for individuals who have prior experience with branding or have a good sense of their brand essence and can clearly articulate their value proposition and what they're looking for to each provider.
It is also for those entrepreneurs who have the time to direct and manage a team of creatives to ensure they are delivering—on time—a cohesive message with each of the brand elements.
Estimated Cost = Your time to recruit and coordinate different providers + the cost of each of the individual components:
- Brand strategy/positioning: $500-2,500+
- Brand style guide: $2,000-5,000+
- Photography (half-day shoot): $500-2,500+
- Copywriting (five standard website pages): $3,000-5,000+
- Website design: $1,000-4,000+
- Website development: $4,000-8,000+
Just like with the DIY option, there is a risk to the overall quality and the impact of your personal brand when there is not a creative director overseeing the various elements.
It’s important to consider the possible costs you would experience if, like our client, you aren’t happy with the final product after you’ve outsourced each of the components.
Some professionals and business owners opt for the ease of partnering with a full-service branding agency to develop and deploy their personal brand to get the professional polish they desire.
What they find is the relief of off-loading this component of their business to seasoned professionals who know what it takes to produce high-quality, effective results.
A full-service agency saves you time as it takes over the project management role and is better equipped to stay on budget and on schedule. This spares you the hair-pulling and delays that often accompany the do-it-yourself or outsource routes.
Above all, with a creative director at the helm, a full-service agency isn’t just concerned with one component of a brand, they build a consistent and cohesive personal brand that encompasses your brand message, voice and copy; brand visuals, photography and design; and brand strategy/positioning.
And, a full-service agency knows a personal brand is much more than pretty pictures, it must contribute to the bottom line of your business and that’s why it’s designed with things like accessibility, user experience and conversion optimization in mind.
Hiring a full-service agency is usually best for those individuals who need to focus on running their businesses and serving their clients, rather than getting inundated with the minutia of learning the tools and techniques of crafting a personal brand. It’s also for those that can’t afford to waste time and want to quickly drive success in their business.
Estimated Cost = $10,000-40,000+
Return on Your Personal Brand Investment
Another aspect in determining which option is best for you is to consider how quickly you can expect to see a return on your personal branding investment.
Although there is a cost to each option, it’s important to calculate how long it will take you to pay off that cost based on your business model and the revenue you generate in your business on a monthly basis.
It will likely take newer businesses without a proven business model or the revenue stream of more established businesses longer to pay off their personal brand investment, so it definitely plays a part in considering what option is best for you.
Which route is best for you?
When it comes down you to your personal brand and how to determine which route you should take—DIY, outsource each component or hire a full-service agency—it boils down to what time and brand expertise you have and results you wish to achieve.
If you're looking for the support of a full-service agency to help you achieve your business or career goals, we'd love to hear from you.