A brand management career can be very rewarding. As a Brand Manager you are responsible for managing the company’s most important assets, its brands.
A strong brand increases profitability, builds customer loyalty and provides protection in difficult economic times.
Although many believe that only companies competing in the FMCG should invest in building strong brands, the reality is that every business that wants to succeed in its respective category has to have the same goal.
Increased competition in all industries, from fashion, cosmetics, bottled water to professional services has lead to companies fighting to attract the best and the brightest for Brand Management positions.
Brand Manager-The Face Behind the Brand
Behind every successful brand there is a brand manager, the person responsible for building and growing it to meet the company’s strategic objectives. In most companies the brand manager is responsible for the strategic management of the assigned brands in order to achieve the business targets including awareness, volume, spend, and penetration.
Although the job description varies depending on the industry, company size and geographical area, the most common brand manager job descriptions include:
- Leading the strategic planning process for the assigned brands based on key consumer insights to enhance current portfolio and improve communication with consumers.
- Involvement in the development of the company’s long term planning that identifies new business opportunities, markets and partners.
- Working closely with distribution partners and Marketing Research companies to obtain relevant information, including the development and implementation of brand audit studies and focus groups.
- Monitoring and analyzing business performance vis-à-vis business goals (awareness, share, consumer diagnostics, profitability, etc.) and the competition.
- Implementing the marketing plans by working with internal and external suppliers to deliver in a timely manner and on budget.
- Coordinating the development of communication materials such as catalogues, websites, brochures, packaging and in-store displays.
- Traveling internally and internationally to ensure the relationship with distributors and suppliers is maintained.
- Delivering internal and external presentations regarding new product introductions, marketing materials, business objective and communication strategy.
- Establishing performance specifications, cost and price parameters, market applications and sales estimates.
- Coordinating regular meetings and preparing regular reports outlining the brands’ performance.
- Managing the status of projects, product testing and the evaluation of external agencies.
As seen above the tasks go beyond a typical marketing role, with responsibilities ranging from market research, product development, and managing the brand’s P & L.
Education and Training
In most countries Marketing (including Brand Management) is not a regulated profession, which means that theoretically there is no mandatory training required to work in the field.
That being said most Brand Management jobs require a Bachelor degree and some previous experience in a Marketing role, usually as Junior Brand Manager, Marketing Coordinator or Marketing Assistant.
Almost every university offers a Business degree with a Marketing focus that offers students a good understanding of fundamental concepts such as target market, segmentation, brand positioning, as well as the 4 Ps of marketing: product, placement, price and promotion.
An MBA will greatly increased your changes of getting a Brand Management job. Most companies, in particular in the FMCG, list this requirement under the “preferred skills” section of the job offering.
Beyond the typical marketing education the brand manager has to have a good understanding of statistics, basic Finance and Accounting principles.
Another great way to increase your chances of landing a job in brand management is to become a member of professional associations.
Some of the benefits of joining such associations include obtaining access to a wide variety of resources that will allow you to stay updated on the latest trends, benefiting from new networking opportunities and obtaining professional certification that will increase your credibility in the field.
In North America some of the most popular Marketing and Brand Management associations include the American Marketing Association, Canadian Marketing Association and Association of International Product Marketing and Management.
Intangible Skills-The Invisible Advantage
What sets a good brand manager apart from the rest is the set of intangible or soft skills. I talked about the skills required to be a great marketer in a separate article, however I feel the need to list them again:
- Vision-a great marketer looks beyond today and knows exactly where he wants the brand to be in the next 5 years. He realizes that brands take years and discipline to build and is consistent in communicating the differentiating idea.
- Curiosity-a good marketer is always interested in what happens around him. He/she has to have a decent understanding of the various marketing sub-disciplines: market research, communications, digital marketing, event marketing, public relations. Regular training is also mandatory.
- Multi-tasking-usually a marketer has to manage multiple projects, such as a website, a catalogue, a new brand identity development, that have a similar deadline (usually the launch/refresh of a new brand): He/she has to be able to dedicate sufficient time to each project and get them accomplished in time for the big event.
- Excellent communications skills. A good marketer should be able to communicate in a very straightforward and succinct manner, in order to avoid confusion and miss deadlines.
- Good people skills. A typical marketer spends 90% of the time collaborating with graphic and web designers, market researchers, event coordinators and other service providers. He/she has to be able to understand their personalities, work style and abilities, and make them feel part of the projects.
A career in Brand Management can be very rewarding, both financially and professionally.
What I personally like about this profession is the opportunity to learn new things, the ability to meet new people and see new places.
But most importantly, it is very rewarding to see how the brand you are responsible occupies a distinct position in consumer’s mind and people are demanding it when making a purchase decision.