The Right Brand Manager

What it takes to do the job

By Adeel Ansari Senior Brand Manager, Homecare GCC region – Henkel

http://www.twitter.com/Adeel_Ansari


Most people I’ve met have a myopic view of the duties of a brand manager and think that making ads is all we’re responsible for. Although this is one of the many things on our agenda (i.e. to facilitate the creative process) it is not the only thing. Other then just for creative purposes there is a detail of analysis, insight gathering, consumer understanding, market analysis and product development that goes behind the role of a brand manager.

The biggest task for a brand manager is to keep its brand alive and kicking. She needs to be able to keep her brand relevant in the minds of the consumer at all times. This requires patience, hard work, luck and some skills as suggested below.

Analytical skill is by far the key attribute to becoming a good brand manager. Being able to read between the lines, understand numbers, researches, insights from the consumer make the foundation of what a brand manager must do. For instance as a Brand Manager on Surf Excel, I had a chance to investigate the seasonality on laundry powder for the brand. Our smaller sachets were selling more and more every year and we had to investigate how, why and whether we could accelerate this growth but also convert it to a more profitable SKU. The analysis led our team to what was happening.

During winters, when woolen clothing needed to be washed, soap was not effective, due to multiple reasons, hence leading consumers to try the Top of Mind brand in laundry – i.e. Surf Excel, but in a cost effective format, which was the Rs.10 sachet. Once the consumers tried the sachet format, some of them stayed on to it and reduced their use of soap as a consequence. This was the insight that led to a successful winter sachet TVC on Surf Excel (Name: Surf Excel Winter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&v=ZZUfhvIE7AY). Through this communication, we were able to highlight a more profitable SKU as opposed to the Rs.10 sachet, speak the mind of the consumer (through the kid), highlight the benefits of the product and visually depict the economies of using power vs. soap.

Now although analysis is relevant, it only gets half the job done, you also need to be a team player and strong communicator. The funny thing about being a brand manager is how the other functions react to what you say. You can be the foundation of a great team or you can be the wrecking ball – the choice is yours. I’ve always found that giving respect and ample consideration to each department (supply chain, demand planning, sales, commercial finance, etc.) will add to a final great execution and helps to build equity for the brand not only in the minds of the consumer but in the minds of the internal team.

A phrase used most often in our line of work is time management. A brand manager has to juggle a lot of different tasks at once, it is therefore important to prioritize your tasks in such a way that you know exactly what is require and when. One way I did this was by having an e-post it software on my account and an early morning check list (for myself).

With all this said and done, we cannot under estimate the importance of creativity and the ability to think out of the box. Brand managers have to spearhead the brand, even if it requires non-conventional ideas. If you cannot challenge yourself to think of new and interesting ways of communicating your brand benefits or even developing new benefits, you will not be able to achieve your brand’s full potential. Campaigns such as Surf Excel’s “Dirt Is Good”, Safeguard’s “Commander Safeguard”, Lifebuoy’s “Germ Busters”, Sunsilk’s “Life Can’t Wait” and Pepsi’s ”Yeh Dil Mangay More” are all a glimpse of what brand management can accomplish but not in isolation of a winning all round team that delivers on the final message through product experience and consumer loyalty.

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