Most new brand managers mistakenly believe this role is about managing others. But, now is the time in your brand management career for you to transition from do-er to owner. Yes, you will likely get your first chance to manage someone, but many times that effort can be a distraction from your opportunity to continue to learn and grow. 

I will boldly say that I loved being a brand manager. My only regret is I was too ambitious to stay in the role. Missing the job has consequences as you may continue to act like a brand manager, even after you are promoted up to the director level.

If you are an ambitious marketer who is looking to advance your career, our Mini MBA program will teach how to think, define, plan, execute, and analyze. 

How to be a successful Brand Manager

1. Take ownership of your brand

As you move through your brand management career, this is a crucial step for you. Many new brand managers will struggle with the transition from being the helper to now being the owner. No one will hand you a project list. Not only will you make the project list, you will come up with the strategies that set up the need for the projects.

Balance using an asking voice with a telling voice. Prior to a decision, ask as many probing questions to understand what your experts know. Once you feel comfortable with your direction, your experts want you to decide. They want to be heard and have their expertise recognized. But, they know they recommend and you decide. 

When managing upwards, be careful you don’t ask your boss what you should do. A great boss will want you to tell them what you want to do, and let the debate begin from there. 

Beloved Brands playbook

Our Beloved Brands playbook goes in depth on everything you need to build a brand consumers will love. Learn about strategic thinking, brand positioning, writing brand plans, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and financials.

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Our readers tell us they keep our Beloved Brands playbook close by for whenever they need to take on a new project. Clearly, we are thrilled that 89% of Amazon reviewers have given Beloved Brands a 5-star rating. Also, we wrote a B2B Brands playbook and a Healthcare Brands playbook

2. Able to provide strategic direction

It is time for you to start to visualize a clear vision and lay out a set of aligned strategies. Your vision becomes the stake in the ground and serves as a rallying cry for your team. Let everyone know where you want to go. As we discussed in our strategic thinking and brand plan chapters, everything you do should match up to your vision. The key issues address what is in the way of your vision. The strategies map out options for how to achieve your vision. And, every tactic and execution needs to be aligned with your vision. Anything that is off must be rejected. 

At this stage of your brand management career, you become the steward of the strategy. Build strategies that allow you to steer, control, inspire, and manage the various functions and agencies that support your brand. Make it clear through your marketing plans. Use our one-page plans to keep everyone aligned in our marketing plan template. Even with a wide-ranging collection of people behind the brand, you are the one who will make sure their agenda matches up to your brand strategies.

3. Know how to work the system

The best brand managers know what they want, and then go get what they want. At junior levels, every organization appears to be a collective mess, filled with functional groups, layers of personalities, and agencies. Everyone brings a different set of goals and motivations, appearing to resist everything you want. As you gain more experience, you will begin working that system to your advantage. Get to know your experts, listen to their issues, and tap into everyone’s unique motivations to ask for their best work. 

One secret that took me many years to figure out: If you want someone’s best work, ask for it. The reason it works is very few ask. When you say, “This is a crucial project, and I will really need your best,” you hit the right nerve that connects with their ego to deliver greatness on your behalf. 

Brand Management Mini MBA

Invest in your future. If you are an ambitious marketer, looking to solidify your marketing skills, our Brand Management Mini MBA will teach you about strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, advertising decisions, and marketing analytics. 

Have a look at our brochure on our Mini MBA program

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You get 36 training videos and our Brand Toolkit ($200 value) that has over 120 PowerPoint slides you can use for presentations on brand plans, brand positioning, and business reviews. We provide key chapters from our Beloved Brands Playbook, and a Brand Management Workbook with exercises to try in real-time. Earn a certificate you can use on your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

4. Achieve success while dealing with pressure

The unknown of ambiguity and the time pressure of deadlines can work against each other. Figure out how to work them to our advantage, as they evoke the right balance of patience with ambiguity and persistence in getting things done. Be organized, disciplined and work the system, so it does not get in your way. 

Another significant pressure at this stage of your brand management career is when the results do not come in. It can be frustrating but is a reality we face. Force yourself to course correct, re-examine the underlying issues, and regroup with your team to look at other options, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.

There is pressure in relationships that many Marketers feel, but are unable to fix. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out the motivations and frustration points in those you work with before they become a problem. Common ground is usually not that far away. At this level, you must demonstrate you can handle the pressure of a leadership role. The four pressures include ambiguity, time management, relationships, and results.

The unknown of marketing can be stressful

Marketing is filled with ambiguity, and the inability to deal with it will eat you alive. Will this ad work? Will the buyer like this idea? Can we increase our forecast for our Q3 promotion? There are so many unknowns until they are known. As the leader, you have to stay comfortable with the unknown to let it play out, because if you panic, you will back the team into an inferior answer.

The daily pressure adds up

When it comes to time pressure, show up organized, disciplined, and work the system, so it doesn’t get in your way. The pressure of ambiguity gets exponential when it conflicts with a time pressure. If you can figure out how to work time and ambiguity together, you can apply the right time pressure to get your experts to provide their best answers. It can be a dangerous game, as you may risk panicking your team. But, when played well, you can get the best from your team.

People relationships add stress

As you move up through your brand management career, you will feel the relationship pressure when leading many cross-functional peers, who may be significantly older and more experienced than you are. Be pro-active in building the relationship. Try to figure out the motivations and frustration points in those you work with before they become a problem. Know where someone stands before you can figure out where you can move them. Common ground is usually not that far away.

The pressure for results

Another significant pressure is when positive results don’t come in. It can be frustrating, but it is a reality we all face. Force yourself to course-correct, rather than getting fixated on your one answer. Step back, reexamine the underlying issues, and regroup with your team to look at other options, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. The pressure for results will increase at each level.


5. Managing others

From my experience, most new brand managers struggle with their first five direct reports. With each new report, look to tweak and improve your management style. At first, you bring your biases of how you wish you were treated. That works for you, but it might not work for your direct report. 

Be flexible so that you can adjust your management style. Keep self-evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each direct report.

You will struggle with shifting from “do-er” to coach. It will always tempting do it yourself in five minutes, rather than spend an hour to show your new ABM. Be the manager who gives feedback. I see too many brand managers not giving enough feedback. I have always been amazing that even those who thrived with feedback as an ABM leave their direct report to squirm. Many are afraid of “going negative,” so the ABM is left in the dark or believe they are doing a good job. 

Take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out, and then provide hands-on feedback in real time. Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and address gaps.

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why brand managers fail

Read our top 10 reasons why brand managers fail with tips for how to overcome. 

Marketing Careers

On a classic marketing team, there are four key levels:

  • Assistant Brand Manager.
  • Brand Manager.
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
  • VP Marketing or CMO.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.

At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.

When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.

Our Beloved Brands Marketing Training program will make your team smarter.

If you are running a marketing team, you will always benefit from having a smarter team. When you invest in our marketing training program, you will help your team gain the marketing skills they need to succeed. As a result, you will see them make smarter decisions and produce exceptional work that drives business growth.

We’ll work with your team to help them learn more about the five core marketing skills: Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. Most importantly, your marketers will learn new tools, concepts, and ideas to trigger new thinking. To help their skills, we get participants to take each tool on a test run. Then, we give feedback for them to keep improving. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

Strategic Thinking:

Our marketing training teaches brand leaders how to ask tough strategic questions to slow everyone down and engage in debate of options to move forward. To start, you will be given various tools to approach strategy in a thoughtful, analytical way. Importantly, marketers need learn how to change brain speeds to move from a strategic thinker style to uncover what is holding back a brand, and onto an instinctual thinker style on marketing execution. 

We introduce our Strategic ThinkBox that allows marketers to interrogate their brand. Importantly, our ThinkBox pushes you to take a holistic look at the brand’s core strength, competitive landscape, tightness of the consumer bond, and business situation.

Brand Positioning:

Our brand positioning process teaches how to decide on the target market, consumer benefits, and reasons to believe. To start, you will learn to define the ideal consumer and frame the definition with their biggest needs, consumer insights and their enemy. Then, we provide our benefit cheatsheets to help learn how to discover the functional benefits and emotional benefits that a brand can deliver. Importantly, marketers need to make a decision on trying to stake out a unique space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for the brand. 

Learn to use our brand idea tool and see how it helps to communicate the brand idea to everyone across the organization. Finally, marketers will learn how to take the brand positioning work and translate it into a brand concept, brand story, and a brand credo.

Marketing Plans:

We see the marketing plan is a decision-making tool on how a brand will spend their limited resources. Moreover, the marketing plan communicates the expectations to everyone who works on the brand. Importantly, we teach marketers how to put together the vision, purpose, goals, key issues, strategies and marketing execution plans

Learn how to write key issue questions and strategic statements that forms the foundation of the marketing plan. In addition, our marketing training provides various marketing planning templates including our one-page brand plan and ideal Marketing Plan presentation deck

Marketing Execution:

Our marketing execution training starts with the concept of our Marketing PlayBox that matches up to the Strategic ThinkBox. To keep marketers on strategy throughout the execution stages, our Marketing PlayBox helps find in-the-box ideas that meet four dimensions: they are focused on our target, fit with the brand, deliver the message, and execute the strategy. 

To start, we show how the creative brief sets up the PlayBox, serving as the bridge between the plan and execution. We go through the creative brief line-by line  and give you examples of the best and worst. Importantly, you will learn to use our Creative Checklist to help make smarter decisions on creative communications. We workshop how to give feedback to your agency based on gaps you see with the checklist. 

Learn to make media decisions that match up to your consumer’s purchase journey. In addition, we provide a similar Innovation Checklist to compare innovation ideas. 

Brand Analytics:

Our comprehensive brand analytics training teach brand leaders how to lead a deep-dive business review. We outline the best analytical thinking so you can become a well-rounded marketer. 

Learn to look at the marketplace, consumer analytics, channels of distribution, competitors or other brands in their industry. And, learn assess the brand itself. Importantly, you will learn how marketing funnels can help assess the brand’s performance. We provide 64 analytical questions that marketers can ask of their brand. Finally, we show how to understand the financial performance indicators of the brand.

Our training looks at three specific streams; Consumer Marketing Training, B2B Marketing Training, and Healthcare Marketing Training. With each program, all the of the examples are tailored to the type of marketer. Undoubtedly, we believe marketers will be at their best when the can see the concepts or tools working on their type of brand.

Take a look at our Marketing Skills assessment tool to see how you or your marketing team measure up.

For more information on our Beloved Brands Marketing Training programs, click below or email Graham Robertson at Graham@beloved-brands.com

What type of marketer are you?

We believe that marketers learn best when they see our marketing concepts applied to brands that look like their own. We have come up with specific examples – consumer, B2B and healthcare – to showcase our marketing tools. Click on the icon below to choose your interest area.

Strategic Thinking

Smart strategic thinkers ask challenging questions.

To start, take the opportunity to improve your strategic thinking skills. Look to the five steps to building an effective brand strategy

We show how to use our Strategic ThinkBox, and lay out the five elements of strategic thinking. Next, go deeper on to challenge your brand’s core strength, engage with consumer strategy, or competitive strategy

Undoubtedly, you must understand the business situation before making your next move. We show how to write the ideal strategy statements you can use in your marketing plan

Video Lesson: Key Issues

To illustrate, watch our video on how to find the key issues on your brand that you can use in your marketing plan. Importantly, it helps you find the best possible questions. Subsequently, it sets up strategic solutions to answer those questions.

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To view, use the ▶️ controls to play our brand strategy video. 

Staying on strategy through execution.

As you move to the marketing execution, you need to use in-the-box creativity to stay on strategy. We map out the advertising process, and the innovation process. Take a look at  our Creative Brief and the good and bad creative brief examples. Then, we set you up to make marketing execution decisions using our advertising checklist to evaluate creative advertising ideas. And, you can use our innovation checklist to compare new product ideas.

Importantly, marketers need to understand media planningpricing strategy, and social media strategy

Our brand templates make it easier for you to do your job.

Moreover, we provide brand templates that help you run your brand. For instance, you can find templates for marketing plans, brand positioning, creative briefs, and business reviews. Altogether, we offer brand toolkits with all the presentation slides you need. 

If you are looking to make your marketing team smarter, we can help. To get started, email Graham Robertson at graham@beloved-brands.com

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If you are a marketing professional, you can learn from what some of the best brands have been doing. We use case studies to showcase the fundamentals of marketing.

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Contact Information

Graham Robertson

Email: graham@beloved-brands.com

Phone: 416–885–3911

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Marketing Book

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the playbook for how to create a brand your consumers will love

With our Beloved Brands playbook, you will learn how to think strategically, define your brand positioning, write a marketing plan, make execution decisions, and analyze your brand. Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands as a reference tool to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. We are proud that 89% of online reviewers have given Beloved Brands a 5-star rating. As a result, Beloved Brands has been a #1 bestseller in brand management. We also have the B2B Brands playbook and our Healthcare Brands playbook

Marketing Training

The smarter your team, the better the results you will see!

As a marketing team leader, you know that your team’s success is essential for your company’s growth. Our Beloved Brands marketing training provides your team with the skills they need to make strategic decisions, produce exceptional work, and drive business growth. They will learn how to define brand positioning, write effective plans, improve brief-writing, make informed execution decisions, and analyze their brand’s performance.

We have designed our marketing training program to build the fundamental skills that will help your team reach their full potential. We will work with your team to help them learn take on Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. 

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