What makes a good brand manager?
Over the course of a career, a good brand manager is going to work on a number of brands, and likely in a number of possibly competing organisations. So an understanding of (and belief in) the special capabilities that a well-managed brand can bring to business is essential. This needs to be more than a sense that the brand you’re working on today is a positive and effective one. A fluent grasp of the wider impact that brands have on organisations, their customers and culture at large will mean you can build and bring the benefit of accumulated experience to your practice, and never be at a loss in terms of what to do next.
Stepping back from the narrow view that brands play out largely in the marketing communications arena will bring innovative and valuable insights to your role. Good brand management means that you can advocate the brand as a single common language across all the specialist disciplines of your company. It has a part to play in every aspect of corporate life, from the reception desk to the boardroom, as well as in the minds of your customers, your prospects and those who are neither, but whose opinions are influential.
A good brand manager is a good generalist. This doesn’t just mean you know a little bit about most things (although that helps). More important is that you have a deep understanding of the connections and relationships between all parts of your business. The ‘connections’ are how your company works with itself on paper; the ‘relationships’ are what actually happens. Armed with the hard knowledge of how your business is designed, and an intuitive sense what the people who operate it are like, you can begin to cultivate the kind of consistency of response and behaviour that is the foundation of a strong brand.
There’s a common idea that people are either inclined towards big visions or to sweating the detail. Sure enough, brand mangers need to be comfortable in both capacities, safe in the certainty that vision without execution is hallucination, and execution without vision is, well, the end. Welcoming innovation and change, but staying in touch with your inner police officer to ensure that rules are followed is an essential part of the job.
Intelligent use of tools
On these terms, the brand is a complex and evolving concept that generates actions and responses on a scale that is impossible for the human mind alone to keep tabs on. Beginning with simple stuff so you and everyone else knows what’s where and what the rules are, the opportunity to capture, analyse and integrate data from right across your business is only limited by the capabilities you can bring to bear on it. And all of this information can and should be purposed to demonstrate how your brand delivers a return to your business, not just in ‘sentiment’ and ‘engagement’ but as a tangible, balance sheet asset.