How to become a Brand Manager

A Brand Manager is responsible for managing the image and reputation of one or more brands, usually within the consumer sector.

They need to have their finger on the pulse to understand all the latest trends, industry developments and consumer insights to develop strategic brand plans to drive brand awareness, market share and increase sales. Brand Managers are instrumental in shaping the brand image and personality that consumers know and recognise that brand for; as such one of their most important responsibilities is to draw up a set of brand guidelines which marketers across the business must adhere to, in order to keep a consistent and cohesive brand image for consumers.

brand manager

Do you need a degree to become a Brand Manager?

Whilst not an essential requirement, especially if you already have industry experience, most companies do require Brand Managers to have a relevant marketing qualification or degree.

What experience will I need?

Depending on the level of the role, companies may be looking for a certain level of experience. For Junior and Assistant Brand Manager roles, hiring managers will often be looking for recent graduates with some hands-on marketing experience and a passion for starting a career in brand management. For higher level positions, such as Brand Manager and Senior Brand Manager roles, often hiring managers will look for candidates with a minimum of 2-3 years’ experience in brand management positions, or a broad marketing role with transferable skills.

It’s not unusual for Product Managers with strong involvement in brand development to make the leap into a Brand Manager role or even for a Marketing Executive with strong experience and a passion for brands to successfully transition and become a Brand Manager. Although some companies will want candidates from a brand management background, some will be open to considering candidates looking to make a career move; so don’t be put off applying!

More and more, we are seeing with Brand Manager positions that companies are looking for Brand Managers with hands-on experience of digital marketing and PR, as these areas become more important in brand management and development. Digital marketing and social media in particular are becoming areas of increasing importance in driving brand awareness among consumers who are glued to their smartphones for a large proportion of their day and discover new brands and products through social media influencers.

What skills do you need to become a Brand Manager?

Brand Manager jobs can vary from company to company, with some having broader roles encompassing the full marketing mix, some have elements of NPD and product design and others focus specifically on growing market share and brand equity. Required skills can depend on the industry, company and role itself, but there are a few key areas where all Brand Managers need to shine.

1.Creativity, Innovation and Insight

It’s a crowded market place, there are hundreds of thousands of brands out there; how do you make your brand standout from the competition in a sea of brightly coloured logos and with adverts bombarding us everywhere from on TV, in the tube station and even on our social media feeds? You need to follow and predict all the latest trends and developments in the industry, understanding what the competition is doing and how you can ensure you stay one step ahead. The consumer is at the heart of all brand development strategies, so you’ll need to have an innate understanding of your target consumer: who they are, what drives them and makes them tick and, most importantly, how to get them to part with their hard-earned cash. Some of the most successful brands are the ones who don’t rest on their laurels and push the boundaries with their marketing to stay relevant and at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Innovative and creative marketing campaigns not only grab the attention of your target consumer in a saturated market but acquire valuable column inches, coverage and social media shares, increasing brand awareness beyond your initial target consumer.

2. Strategic and Analytical Mindset

In addition to the creative skillset, you’ll need to be a commercially minded individual with a head for figures and data. Brand Managers are often responsible for devising annual brand plans and strategies to help drive the performance of one or more brands, so you’ll need to have a tactical approach to marketing to develop, implement and manage these strategies. You’ll often need to analyse sales data, market research and campaign performance to determine the best strategy and approach to improve brand performance and sales; so you’ll need to be someone who is confident interpreting and translating data into actionable insights and strategies. You’ll need to be able to plan for the short, medium and long-term future of the brand, adapting and implementing new strategies to meet the needs of the brand as and when new challenges arise.

3. Influencing, Presentation and Communication Skills

One key aspect of a Brand Manager’s role is the ability to drive change and push the brand’s agenda at all levels, both internally and externally. Brand Managers will often have to work cross-functionally with other departments in the business and will need to ensure that all campaigns and activities adhere to brand guidelines to ensure consistent messaging across the board. Confidence in presenting is another key skill in the Brand Manager’s arsenal, as you will regularly have to present your brand plans and visions for the development of the brand to both internal and external stakeholders.

4. Passion

It may seem like an obvious point, but the most successful Brand Managers are the ones who have a strong passion for their brands and really believe in what they do. As the main Brand Ambassador for your brand/brands, you will need to be their number one cheerleader, championing them at every turn, both when interacting with stakeholders and through your brand activation plans. The more naturally passionate you are about the brands you’re working with, the easier it will be to engage your audience and get them to buy into your brand and products.

How do I make my application stand out?

Brand Manager roles are highly competitive, for any one role hiring managers can see upwards of 50 CVs, and for the larger and well-known FMCG brands they can receive ten times this amount. So how do you make your application stand out? Obviously, you want to tailor your CV to the specific job description where possible, to ensure your skills and experience closely match the requirements the hiring manager has specified, but other applicants will be doing the same. I would recommend working with a specialist recruiter, who understands not only industry but Brand Manager roles. Recruiters will have built a strong relationship with the client and will know those extra details they’re looking for that may not necessarily be included in the job description.

If you’re looking to move from another role or industry, using a recruiter can be invaluable as they can advise how best to tailor your application and sell you into a company that might not normally consider your application. If you’re keen to move into the FMCG industry for instance, where clients are notoriously picky on industry background, working with a recruiter who has an established relationship with the client can open doors for you that would be tougher to break down applying directly.

Here in the Consumer Team at Brand, we regularly work on a number of Brand Manager positions at all levels and understand these roles better than generalist recruiters. If you’re keen to make the move into a Brand Manager job or would like to break into a challenging industry, our Consultants in the Consumer Team are more than happy to advise you on how best to do this.

Find out more about Brand Manager Jobs here or check out all our current Brand Management vacancies

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3 Comments

Amruta Sawant

I have been working as a Brand Marketing Manager in Consumer Electronics Industry and currently on a maternity break. I have been eyeing to work in FMCG since I started my career but couldn’t make it through. With every recruiter or HR (from FMCG) whom I am connecting with, show no interest at all in considering me for any brand or marketing vacancy in FMCG company. I need guidance as to how I can break the ice and pave my path

Reply
Sarah

Hi Amruta,

Thanks ever so much for your recent message. It would be great to talk this through with you and how we could advise you to best target FMCG roles. Would you be happy to drop me a email to [email protected], we can then set up a time to chat.

All the best

Sarah

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