Trying to craft a strong brand image, brand position and reputation, while keeping track of brand perceptions and awareness is probably too much for a marketing professional who has a number of other responsibilities. That’s why companies are increasingly turning to brand managers: dedicated professionals responsible for shaping impactful brands that capture customers’ imaginations, can fend off the competition, and drive business success.
In this article, we’ll describe the roles and responsibilities of a brand manager, and take a look at some of the brand management tools they can use to execute a high performing branding strategy.
You might have the best value product or the highest quality service, but in today’s competitive marketplace, it's always a challenge to stand out from the rest. Having the best product or service isn’t always enough to capture customers’ attention—which means you’ll need to execute a brand management strategy. That’s where brand managers come in. Brand managers are specialists responsible for the myriad of activities that fall under branding strategy, including crafting a compelling brand image, promoting the brand personality, bolstering the reputation of the brand in the eyes of the public, and successfully communicating the brand’s message to their target market.
This is a lot to take on, and some of these tasks are very challenging. Not everyone has the ability (or the desire) to be a brand manager. Let’s take a look at some of the qualifications and skills that an effective brand manager should possess.
Brand managers likely have a degree, and may also have spent some time acquiring professional certifications to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise.
Typically, a brand manager will hold an undergraduate degree in a discipline such as marketing, advertising, or business. Some brand managers might also have acquired postgraduate degrees, such as a Master’s degree in brand management or business administration.
The types of professional certifications that a brand manager might acquire include:
The Certified Brand Manager certificate can be acquired through online or in-person training. It covers topics such as how to position your brand, how to develop and maintain your brand, and how to cultivate brand identity. Professionals that acquire this certification have demonstrated that they have mastered the full body of knowledge associated with brand management.
While the Certified Brand Manager licensure is focused on crafting and executing successful brand management strategies, the Certified Product Manager certification demonstrates expertise in the tasks necessary to champion new products: from inception and ideation through to marketplace launch. Individuals who are certified CPMTM make great brand managers because they know how to orchestrate and coordinate all of the different tasks involved in successfully driving product development and launch.
As well as holding academic and professional credentials, there is a unique set of skills and competencies that is common to the successful brand manager. These include:
Consumers can be notoriously apathetic, and the best way to turn them off a brand is to adopt a been-there-done-that approach. The best brand managers have a creative eye and a flair for coming up with novel and attention-grabbing ideas that have the power to make your brand memorable and compelling.
Brand managers know how to formulate winning messages and impactful communications across a variety of different formats. They’re not afraid to constantly champion their brand, even in no-work settings.
Brand managers need to maintain good relationships with colleagues and external stakeholders like PR professionals and consumer groups. They’ll cultivate strong and extensive networks to help you get your brand in front of the people that matter.
Effective brand managers are not just marketing professionals: they’re great businesspeople. Analytical and ambitious, they’re results-oriented and driven by the desire to achieve business success. They know how to coordinate all of the various activities needed to get the best for your bottom line.
Now that you have a good idea about the qualifications, expertise and capabilities that brand managers bring to the table, let’s delve a little deeper into the functions they actually perform.
From a high level perspective, the main role of a brand manager is to develop, execute and monitor a company’s branding strategy. That will involve tasks such as understanding and tracking industry and consumer trends, market research, managing communication channels, managing a brand management team, and measuring and reporting on the success and performance of the brand in the marketplace.
One of the core activities of a brand manager is to cultivate and execute a brand strategy. A brand strategy is a plan designed to put your brand in front of consumers, increase knowledge of your brand, and increase the likelihood that consumers will prefer your brand over competitors. Many elements of a brand, such as brand image, are intangible and difficult to pin down. Furthermore, a branding strategy is fluid and will need to be monitored and revisited regularly because of changes in the industry and wider business environment. So, part of the role of the brand manager will be to find ways to shape, direct, and routinely measure the impact of the brand, and that will involve brand positioning and brand communications efforts.
In today’s noisy marketplaces, most brands are jostling for attention against hundreds of others. In order to capture customers’ attention, you’ll need to design your value proposition and product offerings in such a way that they occupy a distinctive place in both the marketplace and the mind of consumers.
Based on their understanding of customer needs and competitors’ moves, a brand manager will work to create a brand position that has the power to attract new attention and convince customers to choose your brand over those of competitors. So, a key task is to gather data that can help them to understand a brand’s current position, identify areas of improvement and craft an ideal position.
Managing brand communications is also a major part of a brand manager’s role. Brand communications are all the activities that help convey the brand to consumers, including brand messaging, brand campaigns, and brand promotions.
Brand messaging is the act of communicating the essence of your brand to your target audience and prospective customers. Brand managers will need to be aware of the underlying value proposition intended in your products and services, and to be able to translate that value into messages that resonate. Great brand messaging is what makes customers relate to your brand, and inspires them to buy from you.
A brand campaign is a strategic attempt to put your brand messaging in front of the intended audience, with the purpose of building awareness of your brand and cultivating the right image and perceptions. There are many different types of branding campaigns (such as advertising campaigns and sponsorship campaigns) and a branding manager will be skilled enough to choose an approach that has an impact. They’ll also need to conduct the proper research to be confident that the campaign will land. In order to build a campaign that connects with your target audience, a brand manager will need to figure out their preferences, needs, desires, lifestyles and habits through in-depth market research.
Managing promotions will also be part of any brand manager’s role. These are all the activities that inform or remind customers about the brand and which attempt to persuade them to make a purchase. In addition,through highly personalized content and effective communication, promotions help brands to develop a personal bond with their target audience.
Brand managers will also need to manage communications with customers and prospective customers over a number of different channels. This will involve the management of both outward communications of your brand promotions and brand messaging, but also inward communications from customers, prospective customers and others. Only by carefully managing these communications and conveying a cohesive, brand reinforcing message will your brand manager be able to achieve the goals of their brand strategy. Some of the communication channels that they’ll be responsible for managing include:
Get a comprehensive overview of all the brand management tools that can help your brand manager execute a successful brand strategy by reading one of our recent articles about the best brand management.
Implementing and managing a successful brand strategy involves a considerable investment of time and cash. Furthermore, it's common to get off track, such as if a new brand message fails to land in the way intended, or brand promotions are unpopular. In order to ensure that your firm’s branding efforts are delivering value for money, and that your brand strategy is working, brand managers will need to track their brand’s key metrics. This is quite a task, and as part of their responsibilities, brand managers will need to monitor a range of measures of brand health, such as brand image, brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand reputation, and brand perception.
A strong, positive brand image can help build trust, make good impressions with customers. However, it's not always easy to quantify and measure directly. Instead, your brand manager will be interested in capturing proxy measures of customer loyalty towards your brand, awareness of it in the marketplace, its reputation and customer perceptions of it.
There is a strong relationship between brand image and brand loyalty. If your brand image is a positive one that resonates with your customers, those customers will keep buying from you, again and again. And that’s good news, because loyal customers spend more with you and are more willing to champion your brand by sharing positive word of mouth messages about it. In other words: a positive brand image begets a positive brand image though loyalty effects. You can learn about how loyal your customers are through carefully crafted market research.
Having a healthy brand awareness is key to your ability to recruit new customers and persuade them to buy your products and services. After all, if no one has ever heard of your brand, what chances are there of them choosing it over a competing brand? Brand managers will continually monitor and track awareness of your brand through market research surveys. Gathering brand awareness data is also a crucial part of determining the impact of their other brand management strategies—a healthy brand is one where awareness of it grows consistently over time.
A key measure of the health of a brand is its reputation, or the degree to which it is positively perceived by customers and the public more generally. In a highly competitive and saturated marketplace, a brand with a strong, positive public reputation is more likely to be chosen over a brand with a neutral, weak or poor reputation. Therefore, a key part of what brand managers do is to try to improve the reputation of the brand. However, reputation management is not entirely under the control of brand managers. That’s because firm’s reputations are vulnerable to external events outside of their control. For example, let’s say your brand manager invested time and effort in promoting an online sale, only for your website to go down on the day of the launch.
Alternatively, perhaps an adverse weather event slowed deliveries of a key supply, leading to inventory stockout. Such events can cause dramatic shifts in your brand reputation. In cases like these, the role of the brand manager switches from managing brand reputation to monitoring it for changes, in order to identify where swift, corrective action needs to be taken. For that, you’ll need sophisticated brand tracking tools that can provide you with real-time insight into reputational changes—and we’ve got ways to elevate your brand insights.
Finally, brand perception is the way in which your brand is understood by the target audience. As we saw above, a key part of the brand manager’s role is to craft an image of the brand that conveys its underlying value proposition and to use brand messaging and communications to convey that image to consumers. However, that image may not necessarily land in the way that was intended, and so it’s crucial for brand managers to gather data on perceptions of your brand from the very people that matter—your customers.
Now that you understand what a brand manager is, and what they do, take a look at our range of brand tracking tools. These tools are designed to help your brand manager optimize their responsibilities. Or, if you’re ready to run a branding campaign and want to measure its impact, get ready to do so with our Brand Tracking solution.
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