As companies continue to seek out fresh and complex modes of marketing, demand surrounding reliable brand managers is on the rise. Brand managers play a crucial role in building and maintaining a company’s reputation, and their strategic thinking and leadership skills are essential to the success of a brand. If you’re looking to establish your career in brand management, now is the perfect time to explore all that the field has to offer!
Whether you’re a recent graduate just starting out in your career or an experienced professional looking to take the next step, this guide will give you the information you need to succeed as a brand manager. We’ll give you an in-depth look at the responsibilities, skills, and qualifications required for the role, as well as the different career paths available within the field. Let’s get started!
What is a brand manager?
A brand manager is responsible for developing the public perception of a company and ensuring all external components of a brand – products or services, touchpoints, content, and overall experience – remain consistent. Curating a strong, consistent brand perception is vital to growing reliable brand awareness, trust, and loyalty.
It’s important to note that consistency is not analogous to static. Brand management is dynamic. Brands are organic entities that must adapt to changing markets and audiences.
Careers in brand management
There’s no “right” career path in brand management. From entry-level associates to seasoned directors, brand managers of all skill levels and seniorities have taken diverse paths to progress their careers. While some may focus on developing their skills in a specific area, such as market research or campaign management, others may choose to broaden their expertise by taking on more diverse roles within the brand management field.
Regardless of your specific path, you’ll likely wear many hats as you traverse the world of brand management. You’ll be responsible for developing a cohesive brand experience, aligning external touchpoints for consistency, and cultivating your brand’s consumer perception. This includes creating and executing marketing plans, conducting market research, and collaborating across departments to maintain a reliable, authentic experience.
Assistant brand manager
Assistant brand managers are typically junior professionals, focused on executing directives from and assisting the brand manager. Their duties may include implementing marketing plans, monitoring competitor activity, tracking marketing trends, and collaborating with other departments to ensure brand consistency.
An assistant brand manager is an entry-level industry position with abundant growth opportunities. Many people in this role have a background in marketing, consisting of 1-2 years of relevant industry experience.
Brand managers lead the process of developing and executing marketing campaigns, in addition to ensuring brand consistency. They may oversee a team of assistant brand managers, conduct market research, collaborate with cross-functional teams, and manage internal timelines. People in this role may also assist with strategy-based tasks involving positioning and messaging, depending on the size of the company and team.
Generally, brand managers are expected to have 3-5 years of experience in a similar marketing role. Additionally, strong leadership and analytical skills are particularly advantageous to finding success as a brand manager.
Brand strategists are a managerial position and are largely responsible for providing strategic guidance to their brand management team. Similar to brand managers, a strategists’ duties include developing the brand positioning and messaging, consulting internal teams, as well as conducting frequent market research.
Although the roles may overlap, brand strategists and managers can be easily differentiated. The former focuses on strategically developing positioning, messaging, and go-to-market pillars, rather than the latter’s duty to execute the day-to-day operations.
It’s common for brand strategists to have 5-7 years of experience in a similar role, in addition to relevant market research experience.
A product manager oversees the full development process of a product. People in this role are responsible for coordinating product development timelines, launch plans, pricing strategy, and conducting market research. Additionally, product managers typically work closely with cross-functional teams, including engineering, marketing, and sales departments to ensure the product is tailored to customer needs.
To find success in this position, you will need strong project management, problem solving, and market research skills. Product managers are generally expected to have 4-6 years of experience in a similar role or other relevant marketing experience, such as product marketing.
Director of brand strategy
A director of brand strategy spearheads and owns the development of brand strategy for an organization, while leading an entire brand management team. Their secondary tasks may include high-level oversight of brand consistency across all touchpoints and working closely with other department leads, such as product development, marketing and sales teams. As a senior leader, directors in this position are also responsible for presenting brand positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies to internal boards, investors, and clients for review.
On average, directors of brand strategy have between 7-10 years of industry experience in combination with a background in several marketing roles. Reliable leadership skills, ability to think strategically, and strong project management skills are essential to success in these directorial positions.
So what does the day-to-day duties of a brand manager look like? Like many careers in marketing, your daily outlook can vary significantly. Brand management is a highly dynamic field with new challenges arising every day. Although your daily undertakings may not be clearly defined, there are a number of responsibilities you can expect to do frequently.
For example, as a brand manager, you will likely be conducting regular market research around your company’s products or services. This research is inclusive of your target audience, competitive analysis, positioning, and industry trends. Staying up to date on shifts in public perception and relevant trends is key to understanding your audience and effectively communicating your brand’s value.
Additionally, people in this role often work closely with other marketers to develop and execute marketing strategies and campaigns. Brand managers can provide valuable insight into consumer perception and changing markets, while ensuring strategies align with the brand’s distinct positioning and voice.
Collaboration is a large component to careers in brand management. Because your primary function is rooted in curating a consistent public perception and aligning all public-facing aspects of a company, you’re likely to advise and collaborate with diverse cross-functional teams. This includes the sales teams, designers, software engineers, customer service, and everything in between.
Brand managers may also be tasked with developing and managing a portfolio of brand assets. These assets include all pieces of brand or marketing materials that are seen by the public. Dedicated logos, colors, graphics, and typography are all considered brand assets. Depending on the size of your company, you may be responsible for designing these elements or simply compiling and utilizing the portfolio.
Skills and qualifications
One of the most sought after qualifications for brand managers is tried and true experience with a variety of marketing disciplines. As a brand manager, you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of marketing and advertising principles. This includes knowledge of different marketing channels, such as digital and traditional, familiarity with developing effective marketing campaigns, and leveraging data analysis to make data-driven adjustments.
Another skill essential to success as a brand manager is the ability to think strategically. This means being able to identify and analyze market trends, understand consumer behavior, and develop a long-term vision for the brand. However, brand managers truly excel when they’re able to combine strategic thinking and creativity. Merging the two modalities of thinking is not an inherent trait – it’s a skill. In combination, they allow you to implement new and innovative ideas to help the brand stand out from its competitors.
Additionally, strong communication skills are non-negotiable for a career in brand management. Refining your ability to articulate the brand’s message and values, as well as your ability to present ideas to different stakeholders, such as senior management and clients, cannot be understated. Solid communication skills are also closely related to leadership skills – delegation, providing guidance, offering feedback, and motivating teams heavily rely on communication.
Is brand management the right career for me?
For many, a career in brand management can be a challenging, yet deeply fulfilling pursuit. If you have a passion for creating cohesion from chaos, leveraging consumer insights, and leading the development and implementation of marketing strategies, brand management may be right up your alley!