Becoming a Brand Manager

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Brand managers oversee the development and implementation of brand marketing strategies.  These marketing strategies increase consumer awareness of a product or business name, term, symbol, sign, design or a combination of them that distinguishes the vendor from its competitors.  Large companies invest significant funds into branding strategies in order to augment brand equity, which in turn enhance sales and customer loyalty.

More than mere marketers, brand managers are integral to boosting market share.  Their campaigns to convey product name and advantages serve dual roles of elevating the business’s profile, while multiplying sales. Brand managers are often called upon to correlate their marketing strategies with product sales performance.

Brand managers must be able analysts of their target consumers; in order to develop and reinforce relationships with these customers, a brand manager must understand their needs and desires, and create successful strategies to satisfy those needs with their company’s product. A successful branding strategy will do more than make isolated sales that satisfy momentary customer needs; it will convince customers to associate a need with a product or company.

Brand managers must oversee complex research projects that examine, analyze and predict consumer behavior.  Any marketing or sales strategy centered around a product must accurately anticipate customer response.  In order to achieve this, brand managers often employ market analysts and strategists who research past consumer behavior, conduct surveys and implement trial studies.

Once reliable consumer data has been acquired, brand managers are tasked with formulating effective marketing campaigns to enhance product visibility and company credibility.  These campaigns must differentiate their products and business from its competitors, and drive sales growth.

Brand managers must constantly refine and adapt brand marketing strategies in order to maintain relationships with consumers.  Review of marketing strategy performance, pricing and competitors’ ad campaigns is critical to retaining and growing market share.  Brand managers must be able to accurately anticipate shifts in the business landscape and consumer behavior.

As managers of human capital, brand managers must possess the highest communication skills. Effective direction of a marketing team, researching team and a sales team requires good leadership and social skills, combined with the ability to coordinate and integrate multiple team goals.  Analytical talents that can rapidly identify and solve problems are essential to a brand manager’s skill set.

Education

Due to the complex nature of brand management, most positions in this field require at least a Bachelor’s degree, with many giving preference to applicants with a Master’s degree or higher. Because brand managers must show past success in marketing campaigns and coordinating team efforts, almost all positions require at least four years of work experience in the marketing field.

Most brand managers possess degrees in marketing, business, communications, or accounting, and a significant number of professionals in this position acquire multiple degrees in order to reinforce any required skills. A degree in any of these fields can be found at almost all well established universities. A brand manager should have working knowledge of finance, market research, marketing theories, marketing communication, and consumer behavior.  Although a background in an information technology is usually not required, considering the importance of digital media in modern marketing, some basic knowledge of IT is recommended.

Many prospective brand managers fulfill job prerequisites for advanced degrees with a Master’s in Business Administration.  There are a plethora of MBA diploma mills available online which possess varying degrees of legitimacy.  Although a credible advanced degree can be acquired from some of these online schools, it is important to research the industry’s acceptance from these programs.

Certification

There are a number of international and national organizations that provide certification in brand or product management. The most important of these is the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM), which offers training courses and seminars with a certification exam.  The AIPMM certification indicates a thorough understanding of the principles, concepts and terminology of brand management.

The Society of Marketing Executives International offers the Certified Marketing Executive Certification program which provides successful participants the CME designation.  This program will instruct participants in marketing management concepts, strategy development, campaign implementation, and legal & technology issues.

The American Certification Institute offers courses that can award participants a CMP (Certified Marketing Professional), CMM (Certified Marketing Manager), and CME (Certified Marketing Executive) designation.  The training courses are drawn from the Marketing Management Body of Knowledge (MMBOK).  These designations are sequential and require completion in order.

Occupational Outlook

The outlook for management and executive positions in marketing is optimistic.  Although the general economy may experience only modest growth in the coming years, employment opportunities for qualified and experienced brand managers should far outpace that of the general workforce.  According to CNN Money, the number of brand management jobs to be added in the next ten years is expected to be 39,249, and a total of 34,777 positions should become available due to workforce attrition. This would constitute a 21% increase in the brand manager workforce.

The rapid growth in the number of positions for this career will be fueled by increasing domestic and international competition and the emergence of new marketing disciplines like search engine marketing, mobile search and social media marketing.  Although competition for executive and managerial positions will be strong, applicants with extensive experience in branding campaigns, leadership qualities and industry background should possess a competitive advantage.

Industries of Employment

Brand managers may be found in virtually any industry.  In the past, these professionals were found in only a select group of large companies, but this has changed in recent years as more companies recognize the need for brand enhancement as a major marketing strategy. As more mid-size and smaller companies adopt brand enhancement techniques into their marketing agendas, the brand manager has become a more commonplace member of these executive teams.

Although brand managers can be found in marketing firms, they are more often found in the marketing teams of the businesses they serve. As valued members of in-house marketing teams for mid-size and large companies, brand managers establish long term relationships with a company in order to preside of the branding strategies.  The scope of a branding manager’s responsibilities and the inside knowledge most require to formulate successful marketing programs often necessitate their inclusion into an executive team.

Branding professionals may be found more commonly in marketing firms that serve smaller businesses without in-house brand marketing teams, but it is common to see the most successful of these professionals recruited out to head branding teams.

Salary

Payscale.com reports that brand managers earned a median annual income of $81,540 in 2010.  Those in the 25th percentile reported an annual income of $57,794, and $105,286 for those in the 75th percentile.

Brand managers with advanced degrees earned considerably more.  A brand manager with an MBA earned $116,517 annually in the 75th percentile, while a comparable brand manager with only a Bachelor’s degree earned $101,943 annually.  This indicates a 14% premium for brand managers with at least a Master’s degree.

According to eHow.com, brand managers found in larger companies earn considerably more than those in smaller ones.  A company with 50,000 employees or more usually pays a brand manager between $96,700 and $118,400 annually.  A company with ten or fewer employees typically pays a brand manager between  $39,800 to $71,200 a year.

Experience in the marketing field also provides a bonus to salaries.  Brand managers with only a year of experience earned between $48,300 to $77,700 in 2010, according to Payscale.com.  Those with 20 years or more of experience earned between $75,700 and $109,400 annually.

Professional Associations

The most important associations for brand managers and branding professionals are

Top Firms

Due to nature of the profession, very few marketing firms develop brand marketing divisions with any industry heft. The most successful of these brand managers are usually found with the largest and biggest companies in the business community.  According to market research agency Millward Brown, the top 10 global brands are:

  1. Apple
  2. IBM
  3. Google
  4. McDonald’s
  5. Microsoft
  6. Coca Cola
  7. Marlboro
  8. ATT
  9. Verizon
  10. China Mobile

Many of these companies turned to the largest marketing firms in the world to direct their branding campaigns, including the following in order of revenue for 2010:

  1. Dentsu, Tokyo, $22 billion
  2. Omnicom, New York City, $13.9 billion
  3. WPP Group, London, $10 billion
  4. Publicis Groupe S.A., Paris, $7.5 billion
  5. Interpublic Group, New York City, $7 billion

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