How Much Does a Brand Experience Cost? A Complete Guide

How Much Does a Brand Experience Cost? A Complete Guide
by Eric Cup / July 24, 2023

Why are brand experiences having a moment? The numbers don’t lie.

  • 91% of consumers report having more positive feelings about a brand after participating in an event or experience. 
  • 85% are more likely to purchase a product or service following a brand experience.
  • 70% of participants become regular customers after engaging with a brand experience.

Those are compelling numbers. It’s hard to argue with the data when it comes to the effectiveness of experiential marketing. But what does it cost to create a brand experience?

Below, we’ll break down how to budget for a brand experience, discuss ways to avoid costly pitfalls, and provide tips on maximizing your investment to ensure your budget is well spent.

Free Run of Show Template

How to Budget for a Brand Experience

Brand experiences are, by default, products of custom fabrication. They are often temporary and can require transport, permits, assembly, staffing, storage, removal, and more. Why do we mention this first? Because these hard costs cannot be overlooked when budgeting for an experience. What’s more, they are often fixed costs – they exist no matter what you build. So, although the size, types of materials, and technology involved in creating a brand experience all impact cost, it makes sense to start with getting a realistic understanding of what these hard costs will be. 

Here are just a few things to consider when estimating hard costs: Do you need to rent a venue? Will the experience travel to more than one location? Or will the same experience happen in multiple locations simultaneously? Who will staff it? Are permits required? How long will it run? What happens when it’s over? 

Next, clarify the goal of the experience. Are you building brand awareness? Trying to generate sales? Getting clear on your goals for the experiential event will drive what should be built and what level of investment is required to achieve that result. An experienced full-service design and fabrication partner can help you determine a realistic budget, and help shape the vision and strategy to ensure your goals are met. 

As a general rule of thumb, a brand experience of 2500 sf or less, in a single location, for a time frame of three to five days requires an investment of around $100,000. This includes fixed costs. Multiple locations, multiple simultaneous experiences, longer run times, extensively integrated technology, or larger builds can drive these costs well into the millions of dollars. 

How to Not Blow Your Budget on a Brand Experience

What’s the best way to avoid blowing the budget for your experiential marketing campaign? 

Start early. 

Find a solid design and fabrication partner early in the process and give everyone involved the necessary time to establish a realistic budget, plan, design, formulate logistics, and deliver. Ample time helps avoid rush charges, mitigates the impact of materials delays, and eliminates the need to cut corners on bespoke elements that could impact the success of your brand experience. 

Next, make smart choices when it comes to materials. Consider materials not just for aesthetics, but also for durability, site location, and shipping and installation needs. In fact, transport, installation, and removal should all be taken into account during the design and planning stages. Complex assemblies, heavy materials, and the need for expensive equipment like cranes will drive costs up.

Finally, work with an experiential design studio that handles everything from ideation to installation. Managing multiple vendors for a complex project like a brand activation is a recipe for creating undue stress, bottlenecks, and unplanned expenses.

Tips for Maximizing Your Brand Experience Budget

Once your goals are identified, and your budget is set (including hard costs, design, fabrication, and strategy) … how can you get the most out of it?

One approach is to design for reuse or repurposing. Can this pop-up, sponsorship activation, or store-within-a-store structure be used again in a different location? Can it be repurposed or become a more permanent fixture in a retail store? Or travel to a different event with minor alterations to extend its use?

Another best practice for maximizing your budget is to choose an all-inclusive partner from the beginning. Working with the right full-service studio versus independent contractors or multiple vendors for each stage of the project simplifies and streamlines the process, allowing for a single timeline, a single budget, and a single point of contact. Independent contractors are often ill-equipped to accurately budget complex design and fabrication jobs like brand experiences. More often than not, what seems like a good deal can quickly become an expensive headache.

Successful brand experiences aren’t just for big brands. With the right approach, comprehensive planning, and an informed strategy, brilliant brand activations can be leveraged by companies of all sizes. Whether you are considering a local pop-up or a major international product launch, choosing the right partner is the most important first step.

To find out how a full-service design and production company can create a one-of-a-kind experience for your brand – and maximize your budget every step of the way – schedule a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today.




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