Time for a makeover: the future of brand managers

Takeaway: If you are pursuing a career as a brand manager, your role may be very different than you imagined.

A report that will soon be released by Forrester will provide a redefinition of what a brand manager should be. Their groundbreaking finding: marketers should get back to marketing. Beyond focusing solely on your product, you should really get into the mind of your consumers and appeal to their needs and desires.

And with the rise of digital media, targeting specific segments can be done with more precision than ever before.

The report also claims that decisions really need to be performance-oriented, with more reliance on research and analytics.

Hmmm, recommending a focus on people and performance? It looks like those extra P’s we learned about in Markstrat were well worth it.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Why It’s Time to Do Away With the Brand Manager” by Jack Neff, October 12, 2009

Managing a brand has always been a slightly odd concept, given that consumers are the real arbiters of brand meaning, and it’s become increasingly outmoded in today’s two-way world. That’s why a new report is going to recommend changing the name “brand manager” to “brand advocate,” and fundamentally changing marketer organizations in response to the onset of the digital age.

The report, due out next week from Forrester, finally puts the onus on marketers to change their structures — a welcome conclusion for media owners and agencies who keep hearing how they should change, but often complain that their clients have done little to shift their organizations to cope with an increasingly complex world of media fragmentation and rising retailer and consumer power.

Among the specific recommendations in its report, “Adaptive Brand Marketing: Rethinking Your Approach to Branding in the Digital Age,” Forrester suggests “brand advocates” be responsible for rapid adaptations of global brand platforms and programs, charging centralized global brand strategists with ensuring what local managers do conforms with the brand equity and strategy.

It also advocates recognizing the brand isn’t the only organizational structure that’s important for multibrand companies, but that structures aimed at marketing to demographic or other segment cohorts are equally important. And it also maintains that marketing executives should think less about anchoring annual plans around one or two big hits and more about doing many smaller things quickly and adapting based on real-time consumer feedback and other data.

He believes marketers in the digital age need to be more “numerate,” with more training in research and analytics even if they still rely on staff for help. Marketers today need to balance art and science, he believes, not unlike architects, musicians or cinematographers.

Key to any change, the former Tide brand manager said, is a return to marketing as the focus of brand management, “rather than one of six things a brand manager does.”

“So much of [brand managers’] time is subsumed by internal management, and so much of the creative process and planning is outsourced to agencies and other parties,” Forrester’s Ms. Bradner said. Brand advocates, she said, “really need to be in charge of the heart and soul of what the brand stands for. It does move you off the generalist track to be more of a pure marketer.”

Edit by JMZ

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Full Article:

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One Response to “Time for a makeover: the future of brand managers”

  1. Peter Gasca Says:

    Great article, and extremely pertinent these days. Our new tequila company has already integrated so much of these concepts in our business plan (business direction), including utilizing social media and consumers for advertising, developing a different name/label for domestic vs Russia and China distribution, having monthly business direction meetings, and bringing and keeping the entire marketing operation (mostly creative development) in house. Granted, we haven’t launched anything or even come up with our strategies, but these are the underlying “outside the box” concepts we hope to pursue.

    Thanks for the article … and thanks for putting me in touch with Amy. I think we’ll be able to work something out.

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