Brand Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Identity is important for any product in today's competitive marketplace. Brand managers are concerned with creating a lasting impression among consumers and improving product sales and market share. This is achieved by making sure their organisation's advertising and marketing activities send out the right image. Key aspects of the job include creating brand guidelines and making sure that employees follow them.

Also known as product managers, brand managers are often responsible for overseeing the entire creative process for a single product, or group of products and services. They may work in house, within an organisation's marketing department, or for a brand, advertising or marketing consultancy, supporting different client's projects.

In either case, typical tasks are likely to include:

  • Researching consumer markets, monitoring market trends and identifying potential areas in which to invest, based upon consumer needs and spending habits.
  • Looking at the pricing of products and analysing the potential profitability.
  • Generating names for new and existing products and services, coming up with ideas for new packaging designs, including shape, size, colours, fonts and imagery.
  • Overseeing the production of TV adverts, newspaper and magazine advertisements, direct mail packs, email campaigns, websites, exhibition stands, road shows and liaising with art designers, copywriters, media buyers and printers.
  • Checking marketing copy.
  • Supervising the sign off of marketing literature and campaigns, liaising with legal and compliance personnel, ensuring the designs and messages meet the company brand and regulatory guidelines.
  • Monitoring product distribution and consumer reactions through focus groups and market research.
  • Co-ordinating the launch programme to external customers as well as employees.

The job can involve working with in-house marketing and communications people, as well as legal and compliance staff and numerous creative agencies. It is usual for the brand manager to represent the company at all creative meetings, including photo and film shoots.

Most marketing departments of a large organisation employ at least one brand manager and potentially two to three juniors. Sometimes, they are marketing managers or executives with additional responsibility for a particular brand.

Typical working hours for brand managers are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. During a major product launch, they may put in longer hours to meet the deadline. Part-time work and job sharing is possible.

Although office based, much of their time is spent in meetings. This can involve frequent travel to creative agencies within the UK. Attending TV filming and photo shoots, hosting a product launch event or visiting a trade show exhibition may involve weekend work, longer trips away from home and overnight stays. Those working on international brands may travel overseas on occasions. A driving licence is useful.

The starting salary for a junior level brand manager is around £19,500 to £29,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Employers cover most industry sectors, including manufacturers and retailers of food, drink, clothes and electrical products, and companies involved in providing financial services, travel, leisure or entertainment. Brand managers may also be employed in house by public sector bodies, charities and business-to-business service providers, such as IT, training and recruitment firms. Marketing agencies and consultancies that specialise in brand management usually look for candidates with marketing and commercial experience.

Brand management positions are spread throughout the UK. Many are concentrated in London and south-east England.

Competition for brand management positions is high, and most people move into it after gaining experience in product development or marketing.

Jobs are usually advertised in sector specific publications like Campaign, Marketing and Marketing Week. Other vacancy sources include the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) website, specialist recruitment agencies and national newspapers, for example The Guardian on Mondays.

Education and Training

There are no set entry routes for brand managers. Many transfer into the role after gaining some product or marketing experience.

Individual employers set their own entry requirements. Typically, they look for graduates, especially those with a marketing or business studies degree. There are relevant HNC's/HND's and degrees which cover the principles of brand management. Some degree programmes last four years, which includes a year's work placement. Postgraduate courses in marketing are also available.

For degree courses, entry is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including maths and English. Applicants for HNC/HND courses usually need a minimum of one A level/two H grades, or equivalent. Candidates should check with individual colleges and universities.

Applicants with work experience and a professional qualification may be at an advantage. Without a degree, candidates may be able to work in a marketing role and take the CIM Introductory Certificate in Marketing, which is available to anyone over the age of 17. There are no entry requirements.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Employers usually provide comprehensive on-the-job training in their product, pricing and marketing departments. New entrants usually start in a junior position and work under the supervision of an experienced colleague.

On-the-job training is complemented by professional marketing qualifications. There are a number of options available through the:

  • Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
  • Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM).
  • Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM).
  • Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM).

These range from introductory certificates to advanced level qualifications. Entry requirements for the different levels vary depending on business experience and academic ability.

Senior brand managers typically work towards the CIM Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing (DipM), which is recognised internationally. A list of all the CIM approved colleges and universities, and entry requirements are published on the CIM website.

To become a CIM student, candidates need to become a CIM Affiliate Member. Qualifications can be studied full time, part time, by distance learning or through online tutorials. There is also the option to undertake an intensive study programme.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A brand manager should:

  • Have an instinctive feeling about future product concepts.
  • Have good analytical skills.
  • Be a good listener, able to respond to results and consumer research.
  • Be an excellent communicator, both verbally and in writing.
  • Be able to work well with a wide range of people from different parts of the business.
  • Be a team leader, able to inspire others.
  • Be able to manage different projects at the same time.
  • Be energetic and passionate about their product speciality.
  • Be organised and methodical.
  • Be able to work well under pressure.
  • Have good presentation skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, junior brand managers may be promoted to a more senior role, possibly overseeing a group of brands or even the company brand. Opportunities are likely to be greater in larger organisations. For product, advertising or marketing director posts, professional qualifications are an advantage.

Experienced brand managers may be head-hunted as a direct result of a successful product launch. Agency brand managers with a strong portfolio are equally sought after. Overseas projects or placement opportunities may be possible for those working within organisations that have a strong international presence.

Opportunities for self-employment are limited, but some set up consultancies or their own specialist agency. Some brand consultants work freelance.

Get Further Information

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM),
Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 9QH
Tel: 01628 427500

The Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation Limited
(The CAM Foundation), Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 9QH
Tel: 01628 427120

The Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM),
1 Park Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 0AR
Tel: 020 8977 5705

The Institute of Sales Management (ISM),
18 King William St, London, EC4N 7BP
Tel: 020 3167 4790

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