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Brand manager skills: 5 areas of expertise you can’t overlook

by Casey Schmidt  |  November 11, 2020

8 min. read
A manager leading her employees.

In some contexts, the need for some type of leader is obvious. Ships, countries and expeditions all need someone to guide things and provide order.

However, when it comes to brands, the waters get a little murkier, and understanding why a leader of some sort is necessary is a bit more abstract.

A person leading others on a boat.

A brand manager can help you thrive in ways thought not possible previously. They are, after all, gatekeepers for things like products and services. Their efforts have ranging impacts from internal and external communications that influence brand image.

The following is a detailed explanation of what a brand manager does, why they’re important and what types of skills they need to have.

What is a brand manager?

A brand manager is responsible for implementing and maintaining brand strategies. They work extensively with colleagues across departments to ensure the brand is upheld and improved upon in all external marketing and communications. Their relationships with colleagues are key to their success.

It’s important that you’re aware of what a brand manager does exactly. They are fully responsible for coming up with unique strategies that help target and influence a brand’s intended audience. One of their most common tasks is maintaining brand integrity throughout different areas.

An infographic about brand managers.

A brand manager is typically tasked with handling the following:

  • Budgeting different branding projects
  • Reviewing customer data
  • Implementing branding strategies
  • Scheduling media communications
  • Managing product launches

Now that you have a base understanding of what a brand manager does, here are some reasons a brand manager is necessary.

What makes a brand manager so important?

Chances are that you fully understand the importance of a strong brand, but it’s not always clear how a brand manager helps achieve that. Here are some solid reasons to consider adding a brand manager to your team:

  • They maintain brand consistency organization-wide. When we think of brand consistency, we often misunderstood the efforts a brand manager undertakes in order to uphold it. Though many employees work to boost and maintain the brand, their efforts would be flawed, scattered and weaker without a guiding force like a brand manager in charge of everything.
  • They move the brand forward through innovative ideas. It’s important for a brand to evolve and not stagnate, but this isn’t possible without a dedicated person who works to come up with new ways to move forward. Often we forgot that upholding the brand is not the same as developing it or helping it improve. That’s why having a brand manager focus on these efforts is crucial.
  • They protect the brand during times of errors or mistakes. Your brand will certainly have moments when it doesn’t look the best. Whether it’s just a minor error or a colossal mistake, having a brand manager who understands these situations and can set forth a plan to fix it is necessary.

Now that you have an idea why a brand manager is so helpful, let’s look at some unique abilities they need to possess in order to make a difference in their position.

5 dynamic skills brand managers should have

A brand manager needs to have certain qualities in order to achieve the things necessary to boost and maintain a brand. Here are five of the most important skills a brand manager should bring to a team.

1. An advanced ability to communicate

In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn

Successful brand managers communicate across many different departments and advocate company-wide cooperation on different projects. It’s important, then, to build solid relationships through good communication prior to beginning big projects. Here are some ways a brand manager might go about improving upon their communication skills.

An infographic about customers and brands.

First, they need to be visible and available as much as possible. This includes fielding questions from different departments, attending creative meetings and learning team workflows. They most importantly should show themselves as available for all types of brand questions as they arise.

Remember that brand consistency starts internally, so a brand manager should make it clear that they’ll help out with all necessary tasks and ideas concerning keeping branding up to standards.

2. A knack for creativity

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Creative teams with strategic targets innovate the best brands. However, it is fair to say that too much structuring of these creatives hampers their innovation. Because of this, effective brand managers know to implement strategies that encourage creativity instead of restricting it.

A person with paint on their hands.

One of the things that separates good and great brand managers is the ability to find the right balance between structure and innovation within their creative strategies. These processes should give their creative teams the chance to stay focused while boosting progress in fulfilling brand objectives. The key to this is a combination of prior planning and periodic intervention when necessary.

The best way to handle these processes and obtain the necessary skills to succeed is by outlining your expectations beforehand whenever creating a new brand asset or starting a new project. By putting these in writing and giving them tangible examples, they are quite clear and can be referred back to when necessary. Lastly, a good brand manager will have the understanding of when they should reiterate branding goals that encourage team creativity.

3. Quantitative reasoning

One of the most fundamental brand manager skills is the ability to apply reasoning to different forms of data relating to branding efforts. It’s important to note that many branding outcomes are understood qualitatively, but expressing them with analytics and numbers is what makes a brand manager so effective.

A person pointing to a graph on a laptop.

Part of this skill, particularly quantitative reasoning, is boosted by the ability to synchronize branding data and measuring branding reach before beginning new processes. A good brand manager should be able to calculate conversion rates to show how well new messaging is performing.

The final ability a brand manager needs in this regard is the skill to present gathered data in a unique, dynamic way that makes it engaging. This requires a refined presentation style which blends quantitative reasoning with real-world examples to further a data-driven case for branding activities.

4. The capacity to read trends

Brand managers need to be able to immerse into key markets in order to better grasp the type of presence their brand has in them. Being able to understand relevant marketing research gives managers insight into the different types of media their customers and potential customers consume, as well as the different conversations they’re engaged in. This gives the manager a chance to identify the types of brand messaging that will be effective.

An infographic about user experience.

This skill is dictated by how well a brand manager is able to gauge how compelling a brand’s messaging is from customer perspectives. They need to be able to obtain first-hand insight, which is much more valuable than something like customer surveys provide.

5. The ability to adapt

Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time.” – John Wooden

A basic skill all brand managers need is the ability to be flexible even when it seems difficult. Due to the potential market changes, the only way to move a brand forward is through adaptation. Whether it’s through some type of new design or powerful messaging, the manager needs to be able to create new opportunities without disregarding the core brand ideas.

A camouflaged lizard.

Consider also that many conversations that relate to customer experiences with your brand happen in real time on social media platforms. It’s important, therefore, to have the flexibility to use social media correctly for branding campaigns. Finally, understanding brand discussions on these different platforms is important, and a strategy is required to adapt as these trends develop.

Now that you know what types of things a brand manager needs to be able to do, here are some ways they can boost their brand management.

Ways for a brand manager to improve brand management

One of the main tasks a brand manager faces is brand management, and each will have their own way of handling it. However, there are a couple things a manager can do to improve their results.

Implement internal software systems

Brand managers are tasked with handling many different branding issues, all while trying to innovate the brand further. As such, there’s bound to be some times when they need some extra help. When that’s the case, a software system is crucial.

A person using software.

The best types of software to improve brand management and ease the pressure off brand managers need to be able to handle different security tasks, branding processes and branding elements.

Outsourcing brand management tasks

Many brands outsource a lot of their brand management tasks to external agencies, but this doesn’t have to be a choice that excludes the use of a dedicated brand manager. In fact, the two can bolster each other.

Sometimes there are a few tasks that need to be handled by a professional, outside source so that the brand manager can handle other issues. When this is the case, finding a brand management agency has a lot of value.

Final thoughts

The reality of brands today is they are forced to react quickly to keep up with how often the market can change and how fast information is shared.

Brand managers must be willing to keep up with all types of discussions and information concerning their industry and their brand in order to truly succeed.

If you’d like to learn more about branding, read our complete branding guide.