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Building Brands: A Look into the Exciting & Insightful Career as a Brand Manager

Career as a Brand Manager

Are you someone who keenly watches television commercial advertisements such as the one for iPhones? Do you often wonder why people pay a premium to buy Apple products? Why do people look for Amul when they visit a shop for buying butter? Why do people ‘xerox’ documents (actually the process is called photocopying, not xerox; Xerox is a company which sells photocopier machines, the largest in the world)? What and who makes these products into something else which is larger than the products? Do you have an answer for all these questions? Then you are suited for a career in Brand Management.

A Brand Manager transforms a product or a service into a brand and thereby differentiates the product or service from other similar products or services. A brand could be a design (such as a unique logo), a tagline (remember ‘Just do it’ for Nike?), a unique packaging (Paper boat fruit juices) or most often, a concept or a set of perceptions in the minds of consumers about a product or service. So Pepsodent is different from Colgate. Taj Hotels are different from JW Marriot. Brand Managers build brands by unique designs (through logo, packaging, advertisements, etc.) and by unique communication (through unique propositions, tag lines, promotional campaigns, social media posts, television commercials, etc.)

Why become a Brand Manager?

A product can have many classifications, but it is essentially defined as any goods or services that can satisfy a want or a need of a customer. A product can be tangible in nature, such as mobile phones, shoes, furniture, toothpaste, soaps, utensils, and appliances, to name a few. Some intangible products are services such as movies, television shows, healthcare, consulting or financial services, etc.

A brand is a sign, symbol, name, logo, tagline, etc. which a company uses to distinguish itself and its products from those of other companies with which it competes in the market. A brand can be influenced by various factors like culture, visual media, opinions and social media. Some examples of Indian brands that are at par with global brands are Royal Enfield, Lakme, Patanjali, Taj Hotel, Titan, etc. So, you can understand well now – a watch is a product but Titan is a brand of watches that are different from other watches such as Timex, Rolex, Tissot, etc.

Your role will include tasks like deciding the brand name, branding style, features of a brand, packaging, price, and promotional strategies and its duration. Once the product is out there, you will also have to monitor its results by tracking indicators like revenue, cost savings, profit margin, market share, and customer feedback. Based on the product performance, you can determine actions needed to improve, upgrade or reposition products or revise the promotional strategies, and see through its execution. You must also decide whether the product needs to be discontinued and if the customers need to be driven towards a new product.

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  1. Luxury Branding: As a luxury brand manager, you must have knowledge of service development media and product design. You will help brands develop values, convey powerful messages to their customers and provide them with unforgettable experiences. You can work in various sectors like luxury hotels and resorts, fine dining, food and wine, personal luxury goods, yachts, private jets and automobiles, to name a few.
  2. Corporate branding is the communication a company uses to define its identity as a whole, and not just its products and services. To successfully build or maintain a corporate brand, you should know the business philosophies, nature of the brand, and the company objectives. Part of this also involves designing the logo, tagline or even selecting a brand ambassador. Once this is in place, the brand manager has to see to it that the company campaign gets enough visibility and inspires brand loyalty amongst its customers.
  3. Celebrity/Personal Branding: As a celebrity or personal brand manager, you could be working for a musician, politician or even the CEO of a company. You would be in charge of every aspect of the individual such as attending public events, endorsing brands or products, social media activity, deciding what to say and wear in public and various means of networking.
  4. Digital branding refers to highlighting the most underlying values of a company, rather than just one product. It helps raise brand awareness through various means such as SEO, online advertising, content marketing and influencer marketing. As a digital marketer, your role involves building, planning and managing a strategy, preparing the budget, researching and forecasting sales and performance trends and providing suggestions for improvement.
  5. Experience Branding: Defining a brand focuses on “why” the company does what it does. “What” you do is what provides your customers with an experience. Delivering memorable experiences is critical to keep your brand relevant. One example of experiential branding is the Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup AR (augmented reality) which was a great way to interact with football fans and give them a memory tied to the brand.
  6. Services Branding: A service is intangible and may or may not be tied to a physical product. Service branding is more about the quality of customer experience than the commodity. Every customer interaction with the internal organization of the company adds great value to the mind of the customer. For example, providing services as a trusted advisor at an insurance company improves the image of the company.

What does a Brand Manager do?

Along with the responsibilities mentioned above, a product/brand manager also has to:

  • Executing activities for the brand such as events, sponsorships, and corporate responsibility programs.
  • Driving market growth based on the following current trends and predicting future ones.
  • Improving sales by studying the market and incorporating customer feedback.
  • Ensuring clarity within team members in order to enable smooth operations.
  • Regularly updating your management with your planning and strategy towards achieving your targets.
  • Motivating and mentoring your team to make sure that your plan is executed successfully from beginning to end.
  • Constantly working towards curating innovative ideas and integrating them into the product development processes.

How to become a Brand Manager – Educational Requirement

Undergraduate studies after school:

After the completion of your higher secondary education, to pursue a career in brand management, you can proceed to study for a Bachelor’s degree for a duration of 3 or 4 years. You can do Bachelor’s degree in any subject. Or you may do a Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing.

Post-Graduate Studies:

After you finish your Bachelor’s degree as mentioned above, you can opt for an MBA or equivalent program with a specialization in Marketing. This will not only give you academic qualifications, but it will also help you get higher-paying job positions in the industry.

Job Opportunities

After you complete your MBA, some of the entry-level jobs you can aim for are:

  • Management Trainee: After getting training for 2 years, you can get placed as a Product / Brand Manager
  • Brand Executive
  • Sales Executive or Sales Trainee: After gaining work experience for 5 to 6 years, you can aim for getting promoted as Product / Brand Manager.

Some of the organizations that hire for the above-listed job roles include:

  • PepsiCo.
  • Tata Motors
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Dentsu Communications Pvt. Ltd.
  • Colgate Palmolive
  • ITC Ltd.
  • Godrej Group
  • Hindustan Unilever Limited

Salary of a Brand Manager

The salary of professionals varies depending on the size of the company as well as the level of management. As you go a level higher in management, your salary will increase accordingly. For example, an entry-level and junior position job may bring a salary of around Rs. 35,000 – Rs. 1,50,000 or more per month, whereas a mid-level and senior-level job may bring you a salary of Rs. 1,50,000 – Rs. 5,00,000 or even more per month.

Career progression in this profession 

Initially, you will start out on an entry-level job such as a trainee, a brand executive or a sales executive for 2-3 years. However, over a period of 5-8 years, each path can lead you to become a brand manager or a VP in marketing. The career growth path is as follows:

  • Management Trainee – Brand/Product Manager – Assistant VP Product/Branding – Associate VP Product/Branding – VP Marketing
  • Brand/Product Executive – Brand/Product Manager – Assistant VP Product/Branding – VP Marketing
  • Sales Trainee – Sales Executive – Sales Manager – Brand/Product Manager – Assistant VP Product/Branding – Associate VP Product / Branding – VP Marketing

Taking a look at the market size of the advertising and marketing industry, Print contributes almost 41.2 percent, whereas TV contributes 38.2 percent, and digital contributes 11 percent of the total revenue. Outdoor, Radio and Cinema make up the balance of 10 percent.

India’s digital advertising market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.5 percent to cross the Rs 25,500 crore (US$ 3.8 billion) mark by 2020.* The Internet’s share in total advertising revenue is anticipated to grow twofold from eight percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2018. Online advertising, which was estimated at Rs 2,900 crore (US$ 435 million) in 2013, could jump threefold to Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.5 billion) in five years, increasing at a compound annual rate of 28 percent.

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