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What is a Brand Manager and How to Become One

By Ibrahim Okunade

Published:

Shaping public perception about brands is both an art and a science — a skill mastered by brand managers. Many aspire to this dynamic role but aren’t sure where to start. This article offers a solution, guiding you through the key steps to becoming a brand manager. It’s a straightforward path for those ready to explore brand management and make their mark.

Career Summary

Brand Manager Salary 

As individuals at the heart of shaping an organization’s perception among the public, brand managers are well-compensated for their expertise. Glassdoor outlines the brand manager salary structure as follows:

  • Entry salary: US$81K
  • Median salary: US$107K
  • Senior salary: US$142K

Compared to the average annual salary in the United States, a brand manager salary is significantly higher.

What is a Brand Manager?

A brand manager is a professional responsible for developing and maintaining the image of a company’s product or service. They aim to ensure that the brand’s presence in the market communicates the intended message and values to the target audience to ensure brand loyalty and preference.

Brand Manager Job Description

A brand manager essentially shapes the perception and presence of a company’s brand within the market. Their work involves a deep understanding of the brand’s core values, mission, and target audience. They develop and execute strategies that elevate the brand’s visibility and ensure it resonates authentically with consumers. Brand managers delve into market research to grasp consumer desires and trends, ensuring the brand’s offerings and messages align with customer expectations.

Brand Manager Career Progression

  • Assistant Brand Manager: An entry-level position where individuals assist in executing brand strategies, conducting market research, and coordinating brand-related activities.
  • Brand Manager: Responsible for developing and implementing brand strategies, managing brand portfolios, and ensuring brand consistency across various channels.
  • Senior Brand Manager: Assumes broader responsibilities such as leading cross-functional teams, developing long-term brand strategies, and managing larger brand portfolios.
  • Global Brand Manager: Manages brand strategies and initiatives on a global scale, coordinating branding efforts across different regions and markets.
  • Director of Brand Management: Oversees all aspects of brand management within an organization, including brand strategy development, brand identity, and brand performance analysis.
Brand Manager Career Progression

Best Aspects of Working as a Brand Manager

  • The role allows for creative freedom to innovate and bring new ideas.
  • It offers extensive networking possibilities with external partners and agencies.
  • Cross-functional collaboration fosters a spirit of teamwork.
  • Exposure to global markets and cultures.
  • Dynamic and constantly evolving work environment.

Worst Aspects of Working as a Brand Manager 

  • Balancing creative ideas with budget constraints.
  • High pressure to meet targets and expectations.
  • A constant need to adapt to rapidly changing market trends.
  • Navigating the complexities of global markets and cultural sensitivities.

Top Brand Manager Skills 

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Analytical Skills
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Crisis Management
  • Digital Marketing Proficiency

Popular Brand Management Specialties

  • Digital Brand Management
  • Corporate Brand Management
  • Retail Brand Management
  • Luxury Brand Management
  • Global Brand Management

How to Become a Brand Manager

Brand Manager 5 Steps to Career

Education

Do I need a degree to become a Brand Manager?

Yes, you do. Brand management is a multifaceted career, and you must be well-equipped with a broad set of skills and knowledge to succeed. A degree in marketing and other related fields like business management serves as the cornerstone for this journey, providing a comprehensive foundation in key areas such as market research, consumer behavior, marketing strategies, and communication. This educational background is crucial because it equips you with the theoretical understanding and practical tools needed to navigate the complexities of branding in a dynamic business environment.

Why is it important to get a degree in Marketing or related fields?

A degree in marketing is a prerequisite for a brand management career for a number of compelling reasons.

Here are some:

  • Comprehensive Understanding of Marketing Mix: A marketing degree offers in-depth knowledge of the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), which are crucial for making strategic decisions that affect a brand’s market positioning and consumer perception.
  • Expertise in Consumer Psychology: You learn to analyze and apply consumer behavior theories, understanding why consumers choose one brand over another, which directly informs the development of compelling brand strategies.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Courses on marketing analytics and research methods teach how to interpret complex data sets, from market trends to consumer feedback, enabling precise targeting and measurement of brand initiatives’ effectiveness.
  • Brand Development Strategies: You gain insights into the lifecycle of brand development, from inception through growth and revitalization strategies, learning how to manage a brand’s equity effectively.
  • Professional Communication: Through presentations, group projects, and case studies, you refine your ability to communicate persuasively and clearly, a key skill for managing brand messaging and stakeholder relationships.
  • Adapting to Technological Advances: With a focus on the latest marketing technologies and platforms, a marketing degree ensures you are well-versed in utilizing modern tools that are pivotal in today’s digital-first brand management roles.
  • Global Marketing Perspectives: Courses on international marketing prepare you to manage brands in a global context, understanding cross-cultural consumer behavior and global market dynamics.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Marketing?

Since there are different marketing degrees, the timeline for bagging them is bound to differ. For instance, an associate’s degree in marketing typically takes about two years to complete. 

For a bachelor’s degree in marketing, the duration is typically four years of full-time study.

Advanced degrees like MBAs and Masters in Marketing usually take 1 to 2 years to complete, assuming full-time enrollment. It’s a good choice for individuals looking to make a career switch into brand management without having a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Some of these programs might accommodate working professionals with part-time schedules, extending the duration to 2-3 years or more.

How Much Does it Cost to Study Marketing at University?

As you might have rightly guessed, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question because the cost is dependent on some factors. According to College Tuition Compare, in-state students at public universities pay $10,115 for tuition and fees. Out-of-state students, on the other hand, pay $29,080. For graduate programs, the cost ranges between $12,437 and $23,320.

Can I Become a Brand Manager Through Online Education?

Yes, you can certainly become a brand manager through online education. Many universities and educational platforms offer online programs and courses that cover marketing, brand management, and related subjects. 

Opt for online courses or degree programs specifically focused on marketing, branding, or brand management. Ensure the program covers essential topics such as brand strategy, consumer behavior, market research, advertising, and digital marketing. It’s important to make sure that the online programs or courses you choose are accredited by reputable organizations or institutions. Accreditation adds credibility to your education and may be important to employers.

Additionally, you should look for programs that offer opportunities to develop practical skills through case studies, projects, and simulations. Practical experience is crucial for success in brand management roles.

What are Some Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a Brand Manager?

  • AMA (American Marketing Association): The AMA website offers resources, articles, and webinars on various marketing topics, including brand management. You can find insights from industry experts, research reports, and practical tips for building and managing brands.
  • Branding Strategy Insider: Branding Strategy Insider is a comprehensive resource for brand management professionals, offering articles, insights, and tools for developing and executing brand strategies effectively.
  • Nielsen Insights: The website provides detailed reports and analyses on consumer behavior, market trends, and the effectiveness of different marketing channels. Nielsen’s data is crucial for brand managers looking to base their strategies on solid market research.
  • Interbrand: Known for its annual ranking of the world’s most valuable brands, Interbrand offers deep insights into brand strategy and analytics. Their reports and thought leadership pieces are invaluable for understanding what makes a brand successful.
  • Behance: A platform to explore creative work, including branding and design projects. It’s great for getting inspiration and seeing what’s possible in creative brand expression.
  • Forbes CMO Network: The website offers articles and insights specifically targeted at chief marketing officers and senior marketing professionals. It covers a range of topics, from branding to market innovation.

Practical Experience

Practical experience is key for brand managers, allowing them to blend theory with the real world. No one will hand over the reins of a brand without proof of ability to navigate complex market landscapes and consumer behaviors. It’s through hands-on projects and challenges that brand managers truly learn to innovate, strategize, and make impactful decisions. 

What Are Internship Opportunities for a Brand Manager?

Internships are a sure way to bridge the gap between theory and practice for brand managers. There are several internship opportunities for brand managers to hone their skills.

  • Marketing and Branding Internships: Interns get to work on developing marketing strategies, conducting market research, and analyzing consumer behavior. They may also assist in creating brand campaigns, content creation, and social media management.
  • Digital Marketing Internships: Focused on digital platforms, these internships offer hands-on experience in SEO/SEM, email marketing, online content strategy, and analytics. Interns learn how digital trends affect brand positioning and consumer engagement.
  • Public Relations and Communications Internships: These positions allow interns to work on brand messaging, media relations, event planning, and press releases. They are crucial for understanding how public perception shapes brand identity.
  • Product Management Internships: Interns gain insights into product development, lifecycle management, market analysis, and competitive positioning. This is vital for brand managers who will later be involved in product-led growth strategies.
  • Creative and Design Internships: For those interested in the visual aspects of brand management, internships in graphic design, user experience (UX), and multimedia content creation can be invaluable. These roles focus on the aesthetic and user-friendly aspects of brand communication.
  • Consumer Insights and Research Internships: These internships involve collecting and analyzing consumer data, conducting surveys and focus groups, and translating findings into actionable brand strategies. They are foundational for understanding market needs and preferences.
  • Corporate Branding Internships: Offered by larger corporations, these internships provide a macro view of branding across different product lines and markets. Interns may work on brand guidelines, corporate communications, and stakeholder engagement strategies.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Brand Manager?

As a brand manager, you’re more than a marketer; you’re a professional at the intersection of creativity, strategy, and analytics.

Here’s a closer look at the most important brand manager skills you will develop:

  • Strategic Planning and Execution: Mastering the art of developing and implementing strategies that bolster the brand’s market presence and align with company goals.
  • Market Research and Consumer Insights: Acquiring the ability to conduct in-depth market research, glean consumer insights, and use this information to drive decision-making.
  • Creative Development: Cultivating a keen sense of creative quality, guiding the creation of marketing materials that resonate deeply with audiences.
  • Digital Marketing Proficiency: Gaining proficiency in digital marketing channels and tools, including SEO, social media, and digital advertising, to amplify brand reach.
  • Analytical Skills: Developing the knack for analyzing sales data and marketing campaign effectiveness, employing analytics tools to inform strategy.
  • Crisis Management: Crisis management helps brand managers swiftly address unforeseen challenges, safeguarding the brand’s reputation through strategic communication and action. This skill is crucial for maintaining consumer trust and brand integrity during crises.
  • Problem-solving and Adaptability: Learning to navigate challenges with creativity and adaptability, finding solutions to drive brand success under various circumstances.
  • Leadership and Project Management: Leadership is one of the most crucial brand manager skills. You must be able to lead teams, manage projects from start to finish, and motivate others toward achieving shared objectives.

What is the Work-life Balance of a Brand Manager?

The work-life balance of a brand manager can vary, often influenced by project deadlines, product launches, and the competitive nature of the market. During product launches or major campaigns, longer hours may be necessary. 

For example, in fast-moving sectors like technology, fashion, or FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods), brand managers may experience more pressure to keep up with rapid market changes, potentially leading to longer hours. However, this can be balanced by quieter periods and, in some companies, flexible working arrangements. 

What’s the Career Outlook for Brand Managers?

The career outlook for brand managers, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, is positive. Overall employment of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, which includes brand managers, is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. 

On average, about 34,000 openings for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers are projected each year over the decade. This projection suggests a healthy demand for brand managers as companies continue to seek innovative ways to maintain and grow their market presence.​

Brand Manager Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities for a Brand Manager?

Given the diverse specialties in brand management, the job opportunities for a brand manager are vast and varied, catering to different interests and skill sets.

Here are some roles reflecting the popular brand management specialties:

  • Digital Brand Manager: Overseeing a brand’s online presence, including website management, content strategy, and digital marketing campaigns to enhance brand awareness and engagement.
  • Product Brand Manager: Focused on the branding of specific products, developing product positioning, messaging, and launch strategies to differentiate products in the market.
  • Corporate Brand Manager: Responsible for the overall brand image and reputation of a company, aligning branding strategies with corporate values and goals.
  • Retail Brand Manager: Specializing in the branding of retail environments, including store design, customer experience, and promotional strategies to increase foot traffic and sales.
  • Luxury Brand Manager: Working with luxury brands to maintain brand prestige, exclusivity, and high standards of quality and service.
  • Service Brand Manager: Focused on the branding of services rather than physical products, emphasizing service quality, customer satisfaction, and relationship management.
  • Personal Branding Specialist: Assisting individuals in developing and promoting their personal brands, often relevant for public figures, executives, or professionals looking to enhance their visibility and influence.
  • Social Media Brand Manager: Managing a brand’s presence across social media platforms, crafting engaging content, and interacting with followers to build community and loyalty.
  • Global Brand Manager: Handling branding strategies across different countries and cultures, ensuring brand consistency while adapting to local market nuances.
  • Employer Brand Manager: Focused on promoting a company as a desirable place to work, targeting recruitment marketing and employee engagement to attract and retain top talent.

What Type of Companies Hire Brand Managers?

Organizations across a broad spectrum of industries hire brand managers to steer their branding efforts, ensure brand consistency, and drive market growth.

The types of organizations that typically hire brand managers are discussed below:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Companies: These companies, which produce items used daily by average consumers, such as food, beverages, clothes, and household products, often have multiple brands under their umbrella and require brand managers to oversee each one.
  • Technology Firms: From startups to established tech giants, these companies hire brand managers to differentiate their products in a fast-paced and highly competitive market.
  • Retail Chains: Both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers employ brand managers to enhance their brand’s presence, customer experience, and loyalty programs.
  • Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals: These organizations need brand managers to navigate the complex landscape of healthcare products and services, ensuring their offerings stand out to both healthcare professionals and consumers.
  • Financial Services: Banks, insurance companies, and fintech startups hire brand managers to build trust and clarity around their services in a sector where differentiation can be subtle but crucial.
  • Automotive Companies: Brand managers in the automotive industry work on branding for specific car models, overall brand image, and customer loyalty programs.
  • Fashion and Apparel: In an industry driven by trends and brand perception, fashion houses and apparel companies rely on brand managers to maintain and evolve their brand identity.
  • Entertainment and Media: Television networks, streaming services, and production companies employ brand managers to cultivate their audience and manage the brand identity across various platforms and content offerings.
  • Hospitality and Travel: Hotels, resorts, and travel agencies use brand managers to create compelling brand narratives that attract tourists and business travelers alike.
  • Advertising and Marketing Agencies: These firms often hire brand managers to work on behalf of their clients, providing brand strategy and management as part of their service offerings.
  • Sports Organizations and Leagues: To engage fans, promote events, and manage merchandise, sports organizations, and leagues require brand managers to maintain the excitement and loyalty of their fan base.

Should I Become a Brand Manager?

Becoming a brand manager could be a great fit if you’re drawn to storytelling, strategic thinking, and the dynamism of the marketing world. The role demands a high level of creativity, an analytical mind, and the ability to adapt to fast-changing trends. The role is best suited to individuals who are passionate about building and nurturing brands to connect with audiences on a deeper level.

The positive career outlook for brand managers is a good reason to pursue this path, as the demand for skilled professionals in brand management is on the rise. Peruse the brand manager job description above and consider whether you’re ready to develop strategies and lead campaigns that shape the perception and success of a brand. If you find these challenges exciting and are prepared to commit to continuously learning and evolving in your career, then pursuing a path as a brand manager might be the right choice for you.

Careers Related to Brand Manager


Ibrahim Okunade

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