How much does it cost to rebrand a not-for-profit

Even when you absolutely know that your not-for-profit organisation needs to re-brand the cost and prove to be an obstacle. Persuading trustees that changing or refreshing the brand is a necessary, in fact essential, expenditure can prove problematic even for experienced charity chief executives. So how much does it cost to rebrand a not-for-profit?

It’s easy to understand why committing resources to branding can be tricky. Trustees are there to ensure that the organisation is managed prudently and most, if not all, wish to see the maximum proportion of their income spent on the cause, rather than operational overheads. Neither is there any reason why a group of trustees should have any great insight into the importance of the brand. Some in the third sector even have a problem with the term ‘brand’ – it smacks to them of the corporate world and maybe even seems to be against the ethos of charity.

None of that is surprising when you think about some of the figures cast around in the media as the ‘cost’ of re-brand projects in the corporate world. Sums in the millions are bandied about without any real understanding that the cost of re-fitting vehicle livery on a world-wide fleet or re-signing buildings across a continent can be, well, considerable. But the next time you hear of a £10 million re-brand, such as that recently implemented by catalogue retailer Argos ask yourself how much of that is the TV advertising campaign, how much it is re-badging the stores and how much is the print budget that they would routinely spend anyway? When you think it through seriously it’s pretty clear that they didn’t pay £10 million JUST for a new logo!

Argos were seeking to re-position the organisation somewhat further upmarket alongside more conventional department stores now operating in the online space. A more relevant example for the third sector is Macmillan, who spent £90,000 on their core re-brand from which they gained massive publicity, recognition and profile worth a great deal more than that.

So whatever the arguments for a re-brand, and demonstrating the benefits is essential, finding the right moment that enables cost to be combined with activities that need to happen in any case ensures the best use of cost. These days that often means timing a re-brand, or brand refresh coincident with updating or refreshing the organisation’s website, for example to ensure that the not-for-profit website is responsive for mobile devices. More traditionally it could be timed around the end of a headquarters lease so combined with the cost of the move.

But back to the original question; how much should it cost to rebrand a not-for-profit? Let’s reduce the rebrand to the basics – why should a charity re-brand?

You should get within the basic cost:  

  • Internal re-brand workshop
  • Audience analysis
  • Visual brand development
  • Message and strapline development
  • Usage examples (including digital)
  • Identity manual and implementation guide
  • Roll out/launch recommendations/plan

These are the essentials and they assume existing work on mission and values – if not make sure it is built into the workshop programme. While you could argue that internal workshops are a luxury in my view that would be a mistake. Internal buy-in is absolutely key to brand success and a workshop programme not only creates involvement, it promotes ownership and wider understanding of brands and brand strategies. Without that buy-in the brand will fail, with it you have a better brand and a potentially productive strategy.

For all this you should budget around £6,000-£9,000*  in a small charity or not-for-profit and from £9,000-£25,000* in a medium sized organisation. There are obviously considerable variables depending on the extent to which you are able to include other costs such as web-development, the number or the extent of the audience analysis/market research that is undertaken. In larger organisations this is likely to cost more, but a great deal can be achieved by selecting an agency with the right pedigree. That’s almost certainly not a freelance artworker in a bedroom!

Agencies that understand the third sector and its constraints should be willing and able to work with you to find a route that will suit your needs and to analyse your requirements and roll-out costs. Involving external expertise early in the process provides a degree of objectivity, challenge of internal assumptions, identification of opportunities and focus on outcomes of any exercise. Getting a proper brand audit is money well spent. It should answer the equally pertinent question; what return on investment to expect from a not for profit rebrand? If you can build in improved web search recognition, consequently increase website reads and gain PR coverage then re-brands and refreshes at sensible costs go a long way toward paying for themselves quickly.

If you like this blog find out more about Public Impact and out work with the third sector and please leave a comment.

Meanwhile, updating the website is an ideal opportunity many organisations use as an ideal time to optimise their spend on a brand refresh. You can find out about the ‘must haves’ for a modern, effective website by downloading our free ebook:


* At current exchange rates that’s about $10,000-$15,000 and $15,000-$40,000 – but it is hard to make direct comparisons between the UK and the USA.

Leave a Reply