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How to Start a Branding Agency

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Branding Agency

Fast Facts

Investment range

$1,100 - $3,300

Revenue potential

$60,000 - $500,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$54,000 - $125,000 p.a.

Industry trend




Branding agencies help to create a positive brand image for companies, crafting their marketing messages and building a buzz about their brand. Branding agencies are part of the advertising agency industry, which is worth more than $73 billion in the U.S. alone.

If you have experience in advertising and branding, you could start your own branding agency and get a share of that market. 

But in addition to marketing and creative skills, you need to understand the business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide has all the information you need to build a successful branding agency.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons


  • Low startup costs
  • Help companies grow
  • Good profit potential


  • Skills and experience needed
  • Competitive industry

Branding agency industry trends

Industry size and growth

Branding Industry size and growth

Branding agencies, as mentioned, are part of the advertising agencies industry. 

  • Industry size and past growth – The U.S. advertising agencies industry is worth $73.3 billion in 2023 after growing 2.5% for the last five years.((https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/advertising-agencies-industry/))
  • Growth forecast – The U.S. advertising agencies industry is projected to grow .4% in 2023.
  • Number of businesses – In 2023, 89,651 advertising agencies are operating in the U.S.
  • Number of people employed – In 2023, the U.S. advertising agencies industry employs 267,601 people. 

Trends and challenges

Branding Agency Trends and Challenges


  • A growing branding strategy is the use of branded visual content.
  • Online communities are being used to build positive brand images by many branding agencies.


  • While digital channels are great for branding, so many companies are using it that it’s difficult to get a new brand noticed.
  • Current economic conditions are causing many companies to reduce their spending on branding and marketing. 

Demand hotspots

Branding Agency demand hotspots

What kind of people work in branding?

Branding Industry demographics
  • Gender – 55% of advertising and marketing managers are female, while 45% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/marketing-advertising-manager-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average advertising and marketing manager has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age The average advertising and marketing manager in the US is 38.8 years old.

How much does it cost to start a branding agency business?

Startup costs for a branding agency range from $1,000 to $3,000 if you run your business from home. Costs include a website, software, and a marketing budget.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your branding agency business, including: 

  • Computer
  • Design and marketing software. 
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Website$200 - $1,000$600
Software$300 - $500$400
Marketing budget$300 - $500$400
Total$1,100 - $3,300$2,200

How much can you earn from a branding agency business?

Branding Agency earning forecast

Creating a branding package that includes logo and website design, and a branding strategy costs an average of $5,000. What price you choose to charge should depend on the extent of the work you have to do, and could be less than $5,000 or significantly more. When you’re working by yourself from home your profit margin should be about 90%. 

In your first year or two, you could work from home and have one client per month, bringing in $60,000 in revenue. This would mean $54,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, sales could climb to 10 clients per month. At this stage, you might have an office and hire staff, reducing your margin to around 25%. With annual revenue of $500,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $125,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a branding agency. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Having sufficient knowledge and experience
  • Breaking into a competitive market

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step by Step Business values real-life experience above all. Through our Entrepreneur Spotlight Series, we interview business leaders from diverse industries, providing readers with firsthand insights.

Unlock the secrets of successful brands, design, and animated content with Angela Roche’s interview.

Discover how to revolutionize a brand with emotional branding – read Teju Aluko’s insights in our compelling interview and elevate your marketing strategy!

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a branding agency, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research branding agencies in your area and online to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of branding agencies that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies.
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a creative agency that offers content marketing, or a good branding agency that implements marketing campaigns.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as small business branding or startup branding.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your branding services

The most common services offered by branding agencies include:

  1. Brand Strategy Development: Creating a comprehensive plan for the development and execution of brand initiatives.
  2. Visual Identity Design: Designing logos, color schemes, and visual elements that represent the brand’s identity.
  3. Marketing and Promotional Material: Creating marketing collateral like brochures, business cards, and digital content.
  4. Website Design and Development: Developing a web presence that aligns with the brand’s identity.
  5. Social Media Management: Managing and creating content for social media platforms to enhance brand visibility.
  6. Market Research and Analysis: Conducting research to understand market trends, customer preferences, and competitive positioning.
  7. Brand Messaging and Voice: Crafting the tone, message, and communication style of the brand.

How much should you charge for branding services?

Prices will depend on market prices in your area, but also should be based on your time and your costs once you have an office and a staff. 

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be business owners who want to build a strong brand. It typically includes:

  1. Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs): These are companies looking to establish or revamp their brand identity to compete effectively in their markets.
  2. Startups: New businesses that require a strong brand identity from the outset to attract customers and investors.
  3. Corporates Seeking Rebranding: Larger, established companies looking to modernize or reposition their brand.
  4. Entrepreneurs and Personal Brands: Individuals seeking to build a professional or personal brand, especially in fields like coaching, consulting, or public speaking.
  5. E-commerce Businesses: Online retailers needing distinctive branding to stand out in a crowded digital marketplace.
  6. Non-profits and NGOs: Organizations looking to communicate their mission and values effectively to stakeholders and the public.

Your best bet is to connect with them on LinkedIn, or to call on them directly. Employ content marketing through blogs, webinars, and whitepapers to demonstrate your expertise in branding. Finally, form partnerships with complementary businesses to gain client referrals.

Gain key branding insights and growth strategies from Tanya Grant in her interview on the success of TNG Designs.

Branding Agency business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Branding Agency Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “branding” or “advertising”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Infinite Brandscapes” or “Horizon Brandworks” over “Health Brand Hive” and “Tech Trend Branding”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Branding Agency Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: Provide a brief summary of your branding agency business plan, highlighting your mission, vision, and key objectives.
  • Business Overview: Describe your branding agency, its location, specialization (e.g., brand strategy, design, marketing), and the industries you plan to serve.
  • Product and Services: Outline the range of branding services you’ll offer, such as brand identity design, marketing campaigns, and brand strategy consulting.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the market for branding services, considering factors like industry trends, the demand for branding, and the target clients you plan to serve.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify competitors in the branding industry and explain how your agency will differentiate itself, whether through unique strategies, a specialized niche, or innovative approaches.
  • Sales and Marketing: Describe your sales and marketing strategies, including how you’ll attract clients, build relationships, and promote your branding services.
  • Management Team: Introduce yourself and any key team members involved in running the branding agency, emphasizing their experience and expertise in branding and marketing.
  • Operations Plan: Detail the operational processes of your agency, including project management, client communication, and workflow for branding projects.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts based on expected clients and projects, and profitability estimates for your branding agency.
  • Appendix: Include any supplementary materials, such as portfolio examples, case studies, or client testimonials, to support your branding agency business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to branding agencies. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your branding agency will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

Choose Your State

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing
  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a branding agency business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a branding agency business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your branding agency business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as workamajig, Brandfolder, or Function Point, to manage your projects, leads, estimates, and staff. 


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Consultation Now”. This can sharply increase purchases. [


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Specialized Workshops and Webinars: Offer free or low-cost workshops/webinars on branding essentials, targeting businesses and entrepreneurs to showcase your expertise and build trust.
  2. Strategic Content Partnerships: Collaborate with influential bloggers, podcasters, or industry publications to share your insights on branding, expanding your reach to their engaged audiences.
  3. Client Success Stories: Showcase your agency’s impact through compelling case studies, emphasizing the tangible results achieved for previous clients to build credibility and attract new business.
  4. Social Media Engagement Challenges: Create interactive challenges or contests on social media platforms that encourage audience participation, fostering a community around your brand and services.
  5. Collaborative Branding Initiatives: Partner with complementary businesses (e.g., graphic design studios, marketing firms) for joint projects, allowing you to tap into each other’s networks and broaden your client base.
  6. Localized Guerrilla Marketing: Implement guerrilla marketing tactics in your local community, such as pop-up events, street art, or unique promotional stunts to generate buzz and showcase your creativity.
  7. Interactive Online Assessments: Develop online tools or quizzes that help businesses assess their current branding status, providing immediate value and positioning your agency as a go-to resource for improvement.
  8. Influencer Collaborations: Identify influencers or thought leaders in your niche and collaborate with them for sponsored content or joint ventures, leveraging their credibility to enhance your agency’s reputation.
  9. Exclusive Networking Events: Host invite-only events, workshops, or roundtable discussions for key decision-makers in your target industries, creating an exclusive atmosphere that enhances your agency’s perceived value.
  10. Referral Programs with Partners: Establish referral programs with businesses that frequently encounter clients in need of branding services, incentivizing them to refer clients your way in exchange for mutual benefits.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your branding agency meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your branding agency business could be:

  • Collaborative branding to create your brand identity
  • Create a brand voice that speaks to your target market
  • Branding and marketing strategies to grow your bottom line


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a branding agency business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in branding agencies for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in branding agencies. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a branding agency business include:

  • Branding Specialists – assist with building branding strategies
  • Receptionist – answer phones, greet clients
  • General Manager – scheduling, accounting

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Branding Agency – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

As you know, every company needs to build a brand to be successful, and most need help doing so. If you start your own branding agency, you could help businesses in your area and get into a $73 billion market. You’d also be having fun and using your creative skills.

You understand the business now, so you’re ready to get your successful branding agency up and running!

Branding Agency Business FAQs

Is a branding agency profitable?

A branding agency can be very profitable. It is, however, a very competitive industry. You need a good strategy to be successful.

What is the growth potential of a branding agency?

A branding agency essentially has unlimited growth potential. Since most work can be done digitally, you can target businesses all over the country.

What type of business is a branding agency?

A branding agency falls into the advertising agencies industry. It has NAICS code 541800 which is Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services.

Can you start a branding agency on the side?

You could easily start a branding agency as a side hustle, since you can run it from home. You could start it on the side and eventually grow it into a full-time business.


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How to Start a Branding Agency