How to become a Brand Manager

5 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE

What’s in a brand? It’s more than a name, a logo or a slogan – it’s the reputation that precedes your product or service before anyone has even had the opportunity to interact with it.

A brand can make or break your business.

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At the centre of any successful brand is a Brand Manager, responsible for the perceptions your customers hold about your brand. They develop brand management strategies that serve to create an instantly recognisable product associated with favourable sentiments and messaging.

With 92% of people relying on the recommendations they read online,1 the business need for skilled brand management professionals is more pressing than ever before. Effective Brand Managers need to be a combination of creative, logical, perceptive and tech-savvy, blending the ability to think out of the box with natural business acumen.

92% of people rely on recommendations they read online - a brand can make or break your business. Click To Tweet
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On top of this they need to be able to lead: Brand Managers who are able to inspire enthusiasm in their organisation’s brand, both internally and externally, will have more success in producing a brand voice people want to hear from.

What are the key responsibilities of a Brand Manager?

Brand Managers are responsible for an array of brand-related tasks and duties. The success of the image of the brand is ultimately up to their planning and execution. As such, the three key areas of responsibility include:

Brand management
  • Implement various brand management strategies available for building brand equity and value
  • Continually assess the alignment of a brand to organisations’ strategic objectives
  • Recognise which digital marketing communication tools will be most effective in portraying a unique value proposition for your brand

Want these skills?

Digital marketing strategy
  • Set online brand management strategies and marketing tactics that utilise all tools and channels, including emails, social media and paid media
  • Investigate the campaigns of competitors from a brand perspective and understand best practice to inform online marketing benchmarks
  • Identify branding opportunities to use digital technology to enhance their overall marketing strategy

Want these skills?

Public relations 
  • Ensuring the brand is accessible to the public
  • Boosting the image of the organisation to prospective customers and making the product or service as attractive as possible
  • Learning from their successes and failures, as well as determining ways in which their brand can be differentiated from others

Want these skills?


What is the career path of a Brand Manager?

It’s predicted the job opportunities for someone interested in a brand management career will grow by 14% by 2020,2 as more organisations turn to dedicated professionals to ensure advantageous representations of their brand online.

Brand Management as a profession was once reserved for only the most influential brand names in very specific industries, but with the rise of new channels of communication and the ability of consumers to impact the perception of a brand, more organisations, across the full spectrum of industries, are identifying the value in effective brand management strategies as part of their marketing efforts.

It’s important to understand that every brand management career path doesn’t need to start in advertising school.

Many companies looking to restructure the important role of Brand Manager may look to promote from within and find an employee who has existing experience and market knowledge working closely with the brand – such was the case for GetSmarter Past Student, RJ Prinsloo when he became Brand Manager at The Kartal Distribution.

“Having completed a Bachelor of Consumer Sciences: Clothing Management degree and finding my feet in the fashion industry, I moved to The Kartal Distribution and began as the National Merchandising Manager. As our success grew we needed to relook at our talent and resource strategy, which led to Management approaching me with the role of Brand Manager for all the brands in our business. I happily accepted the jump towards a new career direction and began working towards building a better understanding of what this role would entail.”

The growth of this profession will be above the average of most other careers but competition is also increasing as more people become interested in the field. From Marketing Analyst to Marketing Director, here are some of your options when it comes to the career path of a Brand Manager:

Junior roles related to brand management:

Assistant Brand Manager:
This is a more junior position that allows you to develop experience in the field. You’ll be focusing on developing brand strategies and aiming to maximise the sales of a specific brand.

Marketing Analyst:
This is one role you can consider getting involved in as a starting point for brand management. You’ll be required to assess the performance of brand campaigns in determining their success and feeding that information back to the relevant parties.

Senior roles related to brand management:

Senior Brand Manager:
This role puts a lot of emphasis on strategic thinking and leadership. You’ll be responsible for the work of Assistant Brand Managers as well as implementing major changes within a specific brand.

Marketing Director:
A successful Brand Manager could find themselves working their way up to the position of Marketing Director where responsibilities would shift from the effectiveness of a particular brand to the overall marketing operations of an organisation.

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What is the potential salary for a Brand Manager?

The earning potential of Brand Managers is dependent on the experience someone has coupled with the power of the brand they are responsible for. The Brand Manager of a multinational corporation will be earning a significantly higher salary than that of a start-up.

Focusing on improving marketing skills and leadership qualities, paired with time in the field, will improve your standing.

Click on a country to see what you can expect to get paid as a Brand Manager in either South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States of America:

  • RSA
    Entry-Level R196,961
    Mid-Career R332, 158
    15 Years Experience R561,617
  • UK
    Entry-Level £23,974
    Mid-Career £33,657
    15 Years Experience £48,424
  • USA
    Entry-Level $40,142
    Mid-Career $67,353
    15 Years Experience $112,022

What are the education and training requirements for a Brand Manager?

Brand Management doesn’t require a specific degree or diploma, favouring experience above anything else, but there are different avenues if you’re interested in a job in the field.

Experience in strategy and leadership, regardless of industry:
Often organisations want a Brand Manager who can exhibit strategic thinking and who has led a team before. Demonstrating good team work abilities, creativity and analytical skills are valuable attributes for prospective Brand Managers.

A diploma in brand or a related field:
Advertising schools offer Brand Management or brand-relevant diplomas which give candidates direct exposure to the kinds of work a Brand Manager would be required to execute on.

A degree in marketing or sales:
Because it forms part of the marketing function of an organisation, a Bachelor’s degree in marketing or a marketing-related function is a logical route for someone interested in becoming a Brand Manager.

An online course:

Selecting the right online short course that will provide you with the recognition and skills your career path deserves, is how The Kartal Distribution Brand Manager, RJ, got to develop his marketing and brand management strategies and knowledge.

“I had heard about GetSmarter from some friends and shortly after getting the promotion I was excited to discover there was a course specifically designed for my new role – the UCT Brand Management online short course. I pitched this idea to management and they offered to pay for my studies.”

Brand management is always evolving as new techniques and tools emerge in the industry. As a result, one of the most important ways of staying relevant in the field is to continue learning. Discussing his experience on the course, RJ mentioned “The platform was fantastic. It was easy to use, the UCT Brand Management modules were well-structured and with the range of relevant skills I gained each week, I was able to immediately implement them in my new role on a daily basis.”

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Which skills do you need next?  

Download a course prospectus to find out how one of these online short courses can help you become a Brand Manager.

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