A brand manager’s main job is to organize and oversee the promotion, sales, and overall image associated with certain branded products or services. Much of what this job involves on a day-to-day basis depends on industry needs and product specifications, which can make setting out a universal set of duties somewhat difficult. Promoting a certain kind of soap is usually a much different job than shaping public perception of banking or financial services, for instance, but the core job description of a person in either position is usually somewhat similar. He or she controls every aspect of the brand, from marketing and advertising campaigns to production decisions and sales strategies, and assumes responsibility for its ultimate success or failure. This person typically works as a member of the executive leadership team and often has tremendous authority to direct the actions of lower-level employees.
The Importance of Collaboration
Most managers center their efforts on promoting their brand and improving the way the public sees the products and services associated with it. In most cases, this can’t simply be done on its own, however. A brand manager’s work typically crosses the line into many different departments, which makes cooperation and collaboration an important part of the job. Work with marketing teams, sales staff, and product designers, to name a few, is often essential to success. In some sense, managers are experts at delegation: they identify an objective, then mobilize a range of different people to get there.
Before jumping in and giving orders, brand managers must usually spend time figuring out what is realistic for the brand, taking the current market and past successes and failures into account. This normally starts with market research. Managers study the highs and lows of previous campaigns — both those of his or her own company, as well as those of key competitors — to determine better ways to get things done.
Market research often involves demographic sampling, statistical analysis, and the creation of test markets. Brand executives use the information collected through these means to create strategies and goals to improve consumer perceptions and encourage specific buying decisions.
Organizing and Approving Advertising
Advertising is a big part of the job in most cases, and it is one of the most efficient ways of gaining public awareness. The best methods are usually dictated at least in part by what is being sold, but billboards, television and radio commercials, and social networking and other online campaigns are usually all at least considered. The brand manager will work very closely with a company’s marketing and advertising teams to help design campaigns that will be effective and will maintain consistency with how the brand is being approached elsewhere, both in and outside of the company.
Production and Distribution
Deciding how products are made and sold usually also comes within a brand executive’s expertise. Since this person is often in charge of keeping projects within a strict budget, thinking about where a product is made, what it is made of, and how it is packaged can be important. The manager won’t actually make these decisions in most cases, but he or she will typically participate in discussions with sales teams and may help shape their thinking.
When things do not go according to plan — when a product is being outsold by a competitor, for instance, or when profits dip dramatically — brand managers are usually among the first to begin making improvements. Sometimes, this is as simple as authorizing a reduction in price, but it might also include things like a redesigned logo, a new slogan, or a more aggressive or targeted ad campaign. In most companies, the brand manager bears primary responsibility for the success or failure of all branded products, so he or she is usually very invested in addressing problems before they become major liabilities.
Training and Education
Most professionals enter the field with an undergraduate university education, usually in business or marketing. Depending on the type of company or product at issue, more specific degrees — in chemistry, for instance, in the case of pharmaceuticals, or literature for work in the publishing world — might also be appropriate, though core business skills are often invaluable. Many of the most successful managers also have master’s degrees, and some schools even offer tailored programs specifically related to brand management. While not essential, this sort of credentialing often gives an individual more authority and credibility in the marketplace.
It can be difficult to enter the managerial world straight out of school, in part because of how detailed and involved the work is. Most people begin their careers working as members of sales or marketing teams, or take jobs in publicity. People who have already made a name for themselves in the lower tiers of marketing often find it easier to advance up the ranks.
Other Essential Skills
Employers typically evaluate candidates for more than just their education and work experience, and being successful at managing product perceptions often requires as much personal charm as it does professional authority. The best managers are typically outgoing, creative thinkers who are able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people. Strong writing skills are usually also essential, particularly when it comes to drafting reports and issuing written recommendations.