For those not in 'the know', the title of marketing manager and brand manager may seem similar enough to be completely interchangeable. However, each role is an important and distinctive cog in the wheel, and both are vital to the success of a company and its products.
A brand manager can be thought of as a company advocate, and typically works under the supervision of a marketing manager. This role involves being very specific and strategic in developing the message a company sends out to its users or consumers. There is an art to creating a feeling of trust and assurance and wrapping that feeling in a product or service (a trustworthy brand). That feeling of trust - an alignment of values between the company and the consumer - is what makes consumers feel comfortable enough to click a button and purchase a product or a service.
How does a brand manager accomplish this? By adapting a brand strategy for the target market. Brand strategy involves large-scale marketing and advertising campaigns, which can include both digital and print media. Brand strategy also involves consistently re-evaluating how a brand is seen and what the product or organization's identity really is. Just like a person has an identity, a product or organization also has one. It's like when we think of Whole Foods, we think of natural and organic foods, or when we think of Costco, we think of a food and retail warehouse membership. Each company has its own specific brand that it stands for, and creating these public perceptions is the brand manager's job.
Brand managers can have several responsibilities that may include:
- consistently evaluating brand image
- setting style guides, brand guidelines, brand vision and value proposition
- planning and executing online and social media communications and actions
- creating and managing promotional material
- supervising advertising placement
- increasing brand awareness strategies
- analyzing sales forecasts and financials
- managing the advertising budget
- monitoring and reporting progress on product sales
- assisting with product development and pricing
- assisting with product launches
- developing new business opportunities
- maintaining product branding or making a decision to re-brand
- analyzing customer and competitor insights
Marketing managers are more tactical than strategic. While brand managers inspire trust and assurance in a product or service, marketing managers strive to make sure that the way the consumer is communicated to aligns with the brand. Marketing managers are also very brand conscious, but their focus is more on developing a marketing strategy for a specific group of customers - educating them as to who the company is, what it stands for, what its mission is, and what it can do for them. The goal is to make the customer feel like the service or product will be an essential and beneficial addition to their life. They are always on the lookout for new markets and demographics that may require the company’s products or services.
Marketing managers also determine the marketability of a new product or service, and will test out the level of public interest for it. They will also determine, in concert with other team members, pricing and product placement, and perform complex product research of the product’s strengths and weaknesses prior to introducing the product to non-traditional marketplaces.
Marketing managers can have several responsibilities that may include:
- developing strategies for different customer demographics
- plainly communicating the value of the service or product
- estimating demand for a service or product
- collaborating with marketing and creative staff
- educating staff about marketing trends
- creating promotional information
- coordinating multiple marketing strategies
- managing campaign budgets
- seeking out new marketing opportunities
- communicating with media outlets
- SEO monitoring
- directing social media strategies
- analyzing customer feedback from social media platforms
- evaluating performances of campaigns
- troubleshooting underperforming campaigns
- managing staff
- promoting new products
- reporting to upper management