Brand managers are gatekeepers for company products and services. Their efforts are seen across all internal and external communication and are essential to the image of any business. Here are the top seven successful brand manager skills you should adopt to ensure your brand is strong.
The best brands are innovated by creative teams with strategic targets. The difficulty is that creative teams which are too organized become less creative. Effective brand managers run creative teams but know how to focus them on an overarching strategy.
Keeping your creative team on a clear path can be difficult but with the right methods you can retain innovation while fulfilling company branding objectives. The key is a combination of prior planning and intermittent intervention.
When you task your team with creating a new brand asset, you need to clearly explain your expectations before they start. Put these in writing, include tangible examples and refer to them often. Pick out some opportune times to reiterate the goals but ensure they aren’t hampering team creativity.
One of the most important brand manager skills is designing efficient branding processes that maintain brand consistency. If your colleague wants to use a particular brand asset, they need to know how and where they can use it. Branding process design is setting up branding workflows and implementing easy-to-follow steps for the organization. If your colleagues want to use a brand asset, they need to know how and where they can use it and it’s the brand manager’s job to give them clear and simple guidelines.
An effective way to keep everyone on the same page is to create a thorough brand guide that includes company colors, logo sizing, key messaging, fonts and any other brand-specific styles. Put this in a public place and in a format that’s digestible. Refer to this when innovating branding workflows internally.
Your branding principles extend beyond internal processes. User-generated content, for instance, must adhere to company brand standards. But that’s easier said than done. Contributors who have your brand guide readily available at any time can see your key messaging, the voice of your writing or the colors of the designs. Keeping this brand guide public precludes many company branding mishaps.
An effective branding strategy is to make your brand guide an integral part of content creation workflows. The brand manager should design processes for all external communication from website updates to social media posts and content marketing campaigns.
One of the core brand manager competencies is the ability to justify branding efforts with data. The quantitative rationale behind your brand management strategy is often what gives it legitimacy within the company. We know that most branding outcomes are understood qualitatively but putting it in numbers is what keeps the brand manager afloat.
Staying ahead of the data game for branding is easier than you may think. The key is taking a baseline of your branding reach before you start any new process. Of course, brand perception is mostly subjective but some measurements can be ascertained for branding justification. For instance, a brand manager can calculate conversion rates to show how well new key messaging is being perceived. You could also use social media to make your case by measuring followers or engagement. Whatever you do, be sure to use data and give updates early and often.
Once you have your data, you’ll need to present it to the company in a digestible and engaging manner. One of the most important brand manager qualities is a refined presentation style. Use a unique blend of quantitative reasoning and real-world examples to make your data-driven case for further branding activities.
Interdepartmental Bridge Building
Brand managers must work across many departments and often need to get company-wide cooperation on larger projects. Be sure you’ve built relationships prior to starting a big rebranding project.
Being visible and available is important. Go to other departments and ask questions. Try to get into their creative meetings as an observer and you’ll learn their workflows. And be available for brand questions if they arise.
There are often many questions about branding in other departments that aren’t asked because the brand manager has not made themselves available. Brand consistency starts internally so make it clear to your team that they need to be available for branding questions from their colleagues in other departments.
Digital Asset Management
Successful brand managers have an overview of where their brand assets are and how everyone in the company can use them. Make sure you’re effectively and efficiently managing your brand assets. Your digital asset management system (DAM) should be the focal point of all branding efforts inside and outside of your company.
Your DAM gives you the ability to create, manage, share and secure all your brand assets in a central location. And you only have one of each asset in the system so you won’t have differing branding content. How you effectively implement digital asset management into company workflows is a core brand manager skill.
An important brand manager attribute is understanding the market you’re tasked in operating. From marketing research, you’ll learn what kind of videos they watch, the sites they visit and social media conversations. Knowing these is important for marketing but will also help you understand what brand messaging is effective.
Study the media products your customers consume and use them yourself. The best way to see whether your messaging is compelling is to look at it from a customer perspective. For instance, if your company sells SaaS products, you should read digital publications in that space and follow influencers who engage with the topic.
After you’ve immersed yourself in customer-centered media and conversations, you’ll have a better perspective when looking at your brand messaging. It gives you first-hand insight that countless surveys can’t replace.
Dynamic, Operating in Real Time
Brand management used to be a slow and steady process, but today it moves quickly. Companies need to manage brands as fast as customers’ opinions change, and brand managers must continually keep up with discussions within their industry and about their brand. Conversations surrounding customers’ experiences with your brand happen in real time on social media platforms and other mediums.
Learning to harness social media for your branding campaigns is crucial but researching brand discussions on these platforms is equally important. And be sure to change your strategy contemporarily as trends develop.
One of the core characteristics of a brand manager is flexibility. When faced with changes in the market and the necessity to change becomes apparent, a brand manager is the champion who pushes the company forward with a new design or key messaging while keeping the core brand intact and maintaining brand consistency.