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What is a Career in Brand Management Really About?


By Lyla Korhani, Associate Director, Undergraduate Employment Program, Career Centre Advisor to the YMA

Image via musicbusinessheretic.wordpress.com

What makes marketing – specifically, brand management – such an appealing profession? Well, the immediate response would be that marketing is a whole lot of fun! You might enjoy watching million dollar ads on TV during the Superbowl and wonder who came up with the creative. Or you might walk down the cereal aisle at your grocery store and wonder who came up with so many flavors appealing to different consumer groups (i.e.: health conscious adults or simply kids). If this sounds like you, then brand management might be a field of interest. That being said, there are still quite a few myths associated with a career in marketing. Here are a few that might sound familiar:

Myth #1: I’m really creative so that’s why I want to go into Marketing
While many associate marketing with being creative, the reality is that most companies end up outsourcing the creative aspect of the job. The TV and billboard ads, the packaging of the product, the flyers or print ads, radio gigs are mainly done through advertising agencies, promotional companies and PR firms. So what does the brand manager do?

Required Skill #1: Be an Ideas Person
A great brand manager has strong innovative ideas and a great vision for their brand. This includes developing a strategy every year – the concept of the 4 Ps might sound familiar – an extensive competitive analysis, identifying innovational gaps and first-mover advantage opportunities, developing and implementing appropriate marketing plans that will bring the brand vision to reality.

Myth #2: I’m not a numbers person, so I think Marketing is a great option for me
So many students think that marketing is a great career option as it does not involve a lot of financial analysis. That might be true compared to a career in finance. Yet, being comfortable with Return on Investments and Profit/Loss calculations are important for running your business as a brand manager.

Required Skill #2: Brush Up on Excel
While you don’t need to be a finance ‘buff’, being comfortable with financial analysis and using Excel is a definite asset. After all, the main objective is to grow your brand and increase sales.
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Myth #3: I’m a social/interactive person, so I think I would excel in Marketing
Being a social person who enjoys interpersonal interaction is surely important, but having enough emotional intelligence to act as a leader and engage in strong relationships where your strategic vision is respected by all stakeholders, is a whole different level of skill.

Required Skill #3: Know How to Lead
Leadership skills are expected in most business related fields. However, knowing how to push for your ideas when there is push back is a different story. As a brand manager, you will work with cross-functional teams, yet you need to convince all stakeholders of your idea: the sales department need to believe in your product in order to push it to their accounts and get the shelf space you need in-store for your products to even sell; accounting needs to be convinced on the ROI; production needs to evaluate if your latest innovative idea will be possible to produce given the limited labour, resources, and equipment; and so on and so forth.

A career in marketing can be very lucrative, and while this article focuses mainly on brand management, the concept of looking at marketing from a business perspective applies to most careers in marketing. The artistic element, while not prevalent, is still an asset, and having an ‘eye’ for marketing is still important.

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