What Brand Managers Do
Brand managers are responsible for ensuring the brand’s image resonates with the intended audience and that the brand is setting itself apart from others in the same niche. On one hand, many of the job’s duties fit within the spectrum of marketing, such as devising and implementing campaigns that will help get the brand’s message across.
On the other hand, it also involves business-related functions, such as analyzing data, identifying new markets, and overseeing profit and loss. The information they gather from these functions is then used to create effective campaigns and spur brand growth.
Who would enjoy a career in Brand Management?
Effective brand managers are business-minded. They understand the business, products, audience, and numbers. They’re also creative and flexible, willing to pivot away from old ideas that no longer work and experiment with new concepts. They’re adept listeners and effective communicators; quite often those who are referred to as a “people person” or extravert, though even introverts may excel when they can communicate well.
Who mightn't like the career?
Many people believe that a career in brand management is purely marketing or maintaining the brand’s image. This is only one component, so those who fail to build up their business skills will struggle to get into the field or stay in a position. It’s also worth noting that the position is somewhat coveted, yet lacks a clear path of progression in many companies. Because of this, new grads expecting to get in the position right away, or anticipating a clear path to it, will likely find themselves disenchanted and hitting roadblocks. Once in the position, some find there is no additional room for career growth as well. This in mind, it’s not a good path for someone who craves the structure of a standardized corporate ladder to climb.
Most often, an undergraduate degree in business, marketing, or a related field is the minimum to get into brand management. However, graduate degrees are preferred. Those with a bachelor’s degree can enhance their job prospects by becoming certified in brand management through an organization like The Association of International Product Marketing and Management or The Society of Marketing Executives International.
Interviewees should be prepared to demonstrate success in prior roles, down to supplying numbers which showed their campaigns not only delivered marketing value, but resulted in profit for the organization. It’s also helpful to research the organization in advance and to be prepared to answer niche-specific questions about the brand’s current strategy as well as what its competitors are doing.
Moving into Brand Management from another career
Those in marketing careers will have an easier time transitioning into brand management. However, companies will often consider those with MBAs if they have experience related to their industry and others will promote from within, provided the individual has marketing and business skills.
Marketing Specialist/ Marketing Coordinator/ Marketing Assistant
Role: There are numerous entry-level in-house marketing positions, and the titles will vary by company, as well as by specialty. Titles often have the name coordinator or specialist in them, and may include general marketing, aspects of digital marketing like social media, or event marketing. Core components of entry-level positions include administrative work, research, and supporting the needs of the upper-level marketing team members.
Role: Some companies spilt brand managers into junior and senior roles and the duties performed will vary from day to day. Typical projects begin with research into the market, consumers, and products, followed by a detailed analysis of which marketing campaigns are likely to perform well. Brand managers often work alongside other marketing professionals, the product development team, and execs to brainstorm ideas or refine campaigns and products too. From there, they’ll craft campaigns to suit the company’s goals, monitor progress, and adjust the strategy as needed. They’ll also analyze the results of campaigns to ensure the company’s goals are being met, growth is occurring, and that the campaigns are delivering ROI.
Role: In order to become a marketing manager, companies traditionally expect a degree in a field relating to management or marketing as well as 3-4 years of experience in the field. The manager is responsible for creating the overall marketing campaigns, breaking up tasks among the team, ensuring the campaigns produce the desired results, and managing the team of specialists. Like the entry-level positions, there are many management titles in marketing, such as advertising manager, public relations manager, brand manager, promotions manager, and community manager.
Role: Marketing directors generally oversee all aspects of marketing, including digital, print, media, or any other medium the company uses. They often come up with the overall concepts the marketing teams use in their campaigns, and work to ensure a cohesive branding effort is made. It’s also the director’s job to set budgets for marketing, measure ROI, handle all business planning as it relates to marketing, and oversee all staff below him or her. People may begin to qualify for director roles after 6-7 years in the field.
Vice President of Marketing / Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Role: Vice presidents and Chief Marketing Officers are high-level executives who work even more strategically. They naturally oversee all aspects of marketing, but their core focus is on understanding consumer behavior, expectations, and ensuring that the marketing messages speak to both. They may conduct market research, observe trends, and help frame the general feel of the brand or products, covering everything from pricing to packaging. People usually have a minimum of 12-14 years of experience before they can advance to the VP level. Following this, some, but not all, companies also offer a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) position.
It’s common for directors and VPs to travel anywhere the company does business or is considering doing business, which could mean domestic or abroad. Those in lower positions tend to work out of a centralized office. The global nature of some brands mean that brand managers in multinational companies can find work in other countries and even travel for work between offices.
Marketing Specialist: According to PayScale, marketing specialists earn an average of USD$48,757 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £29,000, whereas salaries are CAD$51,000 and AU$61,000 in Canada and Australia, respectively.
Brand Manager: USD$70,149, £33,782, CAD$68,652, AU$79,607
Marketing Manager: USD$62,363, £32,183, CAD$62,215, AU$76,281
Marketing Director: USD$83,000, £68,073, CAD$85,300, AU$144,926
VP of Marketing: USD $138,620, £92,817, CAD$124,413, AU$161,500
Marketing professionals may increase their salaries by as much as 25% through bonuses, profit-sharing, and commissions.
Why Brand Managers move on
Compared to other careers, job satisfaction for brand managers is a bit lower. This generally stems from lack of career progression opportunities or a feeling that the work is emotionally unfulfilling. However, because brand managers have such strong business skills and understand what it takes to grow a business, many take the leap into entrepreneurship or consulting. Others move into nonprofit work. That said, many enjoy the field as a whole, but feel they need new challenges. In these cases, they simply move to a different company and begin the process of building a brand all over again.