Brand Managers have the vision, they sail the ship, and they keep initiatives on the right path. While millions of businesses are trying to make a name for themselves in the most crowded space ever, it’s crucial that social media managers learn the skills and mindset of brand managers around the world. Companies are struggling more and more to build an online brand from scratch and make it powerful.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen how social media is changing the way brands interact with their customers. It’s a more natural and open one-to-one conversation. Now, instead of sending an email and waiting for days to receive a reply, you can just reach out on Facebook or Twitter. It’s been never so easy to interact with a brand these days and get a reply to your customer service request.
It’s essential you start looking to brand managers at least for inspiration for crafting the vision of the business and stick to it with both hands. Brand strategists are highly effective in maintaining the course of your company in the right direction. If you’re an agency, brand strategists can be highly effective in working with clients when talking about the next year’s strategy, content plan, product launch, and branding.
Everything you need to know about brand managers:
- Who Are Brand Managers?
- Job Description vs Reality of a Brand Manager’s Life
- Why Should Each Business Have a Brand Manager?
- What’s The Skillset of a Brand Manager?
- What Do Brand Managers Love About Their Profession?
- What Is It About Their Job That They Don’t Like?
- How Can You Become a Better Brand Manager?
- What Are The Best Brand Management Online Courses?
- What Are The Best Branding & Brand Management Books?
Who Are Brand Managers?
I thought a bit about how this article would work best. Just explaining what they do is complicated and job descriptions are just plain boring. So the idea hit me: who would be better off taking us through the job and challenges of brand managers than brand managers themselves? Poof – interviews with people with hands-on experience and years of practice behind. I wanted to find out the best, the worst, and the most interesting facts about the daily life of brand managers.
Brand managers can be usually found at major companies working with multiple brands (e.g. Nestle, P&G, Unilever) and working directly with agencies or marketing departments. Brand managers ensure and maintain the long-term vision of the brand and execute to make it fit with current and future consumers.
“To be frank, brand management revolves around the ability to constantly adapt and learn. In my career, I have never encountered two tasks that were identical. So the job is always about trying to discover tomorrow’s trend and hop on it! The best advice I can give is to never consider that you have done enough. There is no point in your brand management career in which you should stop asking questions. But the key is to be able, with time, to ask the right ones.”
Stefan Balcanu, Brand Manager at L’Oreal
Job Description vs Reality of a Brand Manager’s Life
We’ve all seen this. The job described in an interview is usually miles away from reality. Marketing positions descriptions are also sometimes vague. That’s exactly what happens in a brand manager’s job. It’s never the same, you’re in the industry of daily changes. As part of the daily duties which are usually present in the brand marketing job description, you’ll talk to the customers, write creative briefs for the agency you’re partnering up with, and at the same time “you might be analyzing market trends and do research for the upcoming products” says Wani Azahar, Branding & PR Manager at SP Jain Institute.
Some responsibilities vary depending on the position that the company tailored based on its specific needs. For example, a brand communication manager most often acts as the brand’s spokesperson with media relations, whereas a brand developer may be more involved in the sales and marketing activities, creating new branded items and selling initiatives, marketing the company image, as well as analyzing trends in the sales performance and adjusting plans accordingly in order to meet the sales target.
Regardless of their job title, brand managers use customer and trend research to create strategies that will change how people perceive the brand. Let’s say you are a brand manager of an LLC in Georgia, USA, and you specialize in the travel and hospitality niche. Your duty is to know the specific travel demands and habits of customers in your area to sketch out strategies to increase your brand exposure. Customers need to be at the core of everything brand managers do. They have to work hard to ensure that a brand remains recognizable, up to date and exciting to potential clients.
I love how Marcos says that brand managers need to “listen and understand the relationship its brand is creating, how people are responding to its tone of voice and if they like it.”
We asked Hung Nguyen from Small PDF how her day to day looks like and was pretty surprised when we heard that the agenda is usually different from each day to the other
- Outreach, including Link Building, that contributes to our SEO strategy
- Partnerships by running an affiliate program
- Content Marketing by producing content
- Email Campaign creating email blasts
- SEO Analysis and Competitor Analysis
- Running Social Media Channels
- Customer Support by talking to more than 15M users, it includes damage control, which I have a dedicated Slack channel, integrated with Mentions to keep an eye out for anything fishy relating to our brand
Why Should Each Business Have a Brand Manager?
To help you understand how important a brand marketing manager is, remember all the failed campaigns you’ve seen over the past few years. You probably remember a major clothing brand selling a certain hoodie and facing the backlash or a cosmetic company accused of racism after launching a commercial of their soap. Did you cringe just by thinking about this? Yikes.
Jan Helbing says in his latest piece that “we see campaigns that completely miss the mark time and time again. It’s like that Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Commercial that had a massive backlash from the audience. Ask yourself – is this campaign positively influencing my brand? It seems like a silly question, but if the answer is not a resounding “absolutely” then ditch the campaign – you’ll be thanking me well before the data does.” Never underestimate the power of intuition.
What’s The Skillset of a Brand Manager?
And when it comes to a brand manager’s requirements and skills, you’ve already seen some of our guests commenting on that. Now, let’s see what we’ve learned, a brand manager has to know and learn how to
- Create a business case to determine how better to present the services or product
- Attend focus groups and continuously communicate with present & potential customers
- Write creative briefs for the agency partners
- Ensure that branding is solid in all the marketing materials
- Participate in product launches and sign off on content
- Organize brainstorm sessions with the marketing team
- Analyze the latest sales data to see what strategies are working and multiple results
“After 9 years of hard work to go from 0 to more than 21.5M users throughout Latin America, I can share that the responsibility of a brand manager is to ensure that all contacts with the customer contain in one way or another the message we want to transmit as a company. It starts with marketing campaigns and goes beyond customer service. Our message and the branding that identifies us MUST be present. Clients must receive our messages in the same way, it’s the key to success in the long run.”
Cristian Rennella VP of Marketing (ex-brand manager) at oMelhorTrato.com
“It’s best to be in continuous contact with all the areas of your company and constantly learn from all the departments you’re part of – sales, accounting, human resources and not just marketing. You’ll be able to carry out your work comprehensively and with greater success.“ comments further Cristian.
That’s why you need to carefully learn and improve your skills in:
- Strategic Marketing
- Marketing Management
- Product Marketing
- Product Development
- Crisis Management
- Brand Operations
- Customer Support
- Sales Management
- Design Management
- PR Management
Brand manager roles typically require a bachelor’s degree. Recruiters usually prefer graduates who have studied subjects such as marketing, business studies or accounting, but experience is key. Even if you don’t have a Marketing major, working in-house at an organization or at an agency often helps provide the necessary qualifications to get your desired job.
What Do Brand Managers Love About Their Profession?
When asking what she likes most, Tatsuya Nakagawa @ Castagra says that used to be a “Radio DJ/presenter where I used to connect people through the cadence of my voice. Now I get to do so through a different medium, and a product loved by millions. Much more challenging, but also more rewarding. I also really enjoy the anticipation – from waiting for replies to seeing emails’ open rate going up, content getting published and marketing campaigns getting shares over social media. Oh and the positive feedback from users.”
Make sure your brand truly connects with your customers and try to get quality feedback on a regular basis. As a brand coordinator, you are a hybrid who makes use of both strategic skills to win over the customer and the tactical skills to execute project solutions like a pro. In order to make people love the brand, you must gain a holistic view of the process that delivers top notch creative work to your potential clients. This involves listening to what they want, accepting and implementing feedback, and improving every bit of your brand’s interaction with its customers. You heard this before but not many people do this regularly. Don’t get stuck in a branding bubble.
What Is It About Their Job That They Don’t Like?
“It’s the troll/hater mood that reigns these days. Doesn’t matter what you try to do, you will always get some level of hate. You can fight it or take the high road and in all honesty, you shouldn’t care about these characters, but when you commit to a brand, even a bad word can ruin your day. As of liking, today is easier than ever to engage and connect with your fans, to personalize the relationship and to give them what they want, when they want it and where they want it.” says Marcos Bravo.
Brand managers often find themselves at the mercy of people’s harsh interpretation of their brand message. Misinterpretation is actually quite common. Other times, real-life examples have proven that the company could have used a brand manager to carefully double check if the message can be perceived as negative, insensitive or even racist. Take a moment to analyze Pepsi’s disastrous Kylie Jenner saga, Nivea’s “White is Purity” ad, or Dove’s October Facebook video. These campaigns’ message clearly wasn’t intended to ruin their global brands’ reputation, but was met with overwhelmingly negative accusations.
Now think about the brand managers behind these campaigns and what they don’t enjoy about their job.
How Can You Become a Better Brand Manager?
The marketing concepts vary, however I believe that marketers should be constantly improving their skills since marketing channels are expanding every day and brands are creating more and more content. You have to craft the skills of content, copywriting, social media, analytics, sales, negotiation, and crisis management. There are two ways you can do this: take specialized courses to get a management degree or qualification in marketing, or opt for online courses that offer certifications. Here’s some awesome advice:
“I think that are 2 main types of Brand Managers: the ones who think like business owners; and those who are just “air traffic controllers” who deliver feedback and make sure the projects are implemented. For sure the first category is more appreciated because they are always thinking how to understand customers and make them happy. How to find insights and make the right mix to tap into consumers need states. How to fight in a competitive market in order to survive, grow and gain market share.”
Vlad Teioșanu | Former Brand Manager @Milka; Founder @creativesc
You’ll work closely with all the teams in the company and see magic happen. That’s why you need to understand what they’re talking about, comprehend the language and generate new ideas. Being a better brand manager also implies having a well-researched and fair price for marketing services. In other words, the importance of pricing extends beyond just knowing how much money to ask from a client. It can literally make or break your freelance career as a brand manager.
What Are The Best Brand Management Online Courses?
I would highly recommend you to subscribe for one of the courses on edX, like this one, in order to learn how to make decisions in brand management or choose one of the courses available on Coursera right here. These are both very tactical and highly useful courses that would help you understand if being a brand managers sounds like something right for you.
What Are The Best Books?
When speaking about branding and strategic brand management I would highly recommend the following books to read:
- How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp
- Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand, by Jeremy Miller
- Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman
- The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, by Marty Neumeier
- Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble by Davis Dyer, Frederick Dalzell, and Rowena Olegario
- What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest, by Denise Lee Yohn
- Brand Leadership: Building Assets In an Information Economy, by David A. Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler
- Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists, by Margaret Hartwell
- Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy
Whether you want to become a brand development manager and explore a mix of sales, marketing, and brand development, or you are more into ensuring that customers are happy and wish to transition towards a brand experience manager position, these books can help you. The principles of brand management and the pillars of brand thinking can be applied across a variety of roles.
If you’re interested in reading more, discover more books on social media marketing or check out these awesome resources