As a career switcher, I didn’t really understand brand management until I started to research what a brand manager does. However, after my internship at the Hershey Company, I discovered there is a lot more the position requires that you won’t usually find on a job description. Here are a few things a brand management MBA should keep in the back of their mind throughout the first year in the program, and front of mind during their internship.
Know your consumer
Consumers are at the center of brand management. They are the drivers that will ultimately receive your advertisements, promotions, and make the difference between high and low incremental sales. Without understanding consumer insights and knowing how to apply them to a brand, there will be limited growth in the long term. Having the consumer front of mind in all your work is what makes a brand manager successful.
Be comfortable working on cross functional teams
Brand managers are constantly referred to as the “hub of the wheel.” They are the liaisons between consumer research through implementation and execution as well as the key drivers for programs within the brands. Although a brand manager does not need to be well versed in all the departments of a company, having the confidence to ask for help from your team in producing the best brand is a necessity.
Understand the difference between macro and micro trends
As a brand manager, consumers will always be changing. However, our job is to know which of these are macro (long term) and which are micro (shorter term). For example, many fashion trends are micro trends and will most likely not be popular in the next few years. Brand managers make decisions on the path brands will go down and need to understand if those trends are sticky enough to devote their budget towards.
Be open to new experiences and the unknown
The best thing about brand management is the unknown of the consumer. Although there are trends that can be predicted, humans are some of the most variable beings. Having an open mindset is crucial because you will be working on new projects with unclear purposes while utilizing various types of pricing and promotional strategies. It may be terrifying at first, but the rush of adrenaline you get when you take a risk and succeed is like no other.
You do NOT need to be perfect
The best advice I received was that you don’t need to be right all the time if you have rational support for your decisions. As brand managers, we are given copious amounts of information that will help us with our decision making, but it is up to us to choose how to interpret it. Being willing to take risks and fail will help you learn more than only succeeding. When we fail, we can not only humble ourselves, but learn what did not work and be more willing to dig into why things didn’t.
Although the list of intrinsic qualities a brand manager may need is endless, understanding these values will make you the best you can be. Your education will help build the knowledge for trends and marketing, but the experiences you gain through internships and class projects will form your core consumer-centric understanding of brand management.
Connie Cannizzaro is part of the Full Time MBA Class of 2022 specializing in Brand & Product Management. Originally from Medinah, IL, Connie was a Rotational Engineer prior to returning to school to complete her MBA. During the summer of 2021 she interned with the Hershey Company. Connie is a student ambassador – find out more about her or get in touch here.