Brand Management: Emerging era of brand management

Brand management is a newly evolved specialised function which involves creating and nurturing a brand with the objective of enhancing its image, recall, and longevity in a competitive environment
Brand Bollywood, brand India, brand Vajpayee, brand Sonia Gandhi. Increasingly products, places, and people are being branded. Hardly surprising given that global brands like Nike, Coca Cola, Versace, Kelloggs, Titan, and Kingfisher among others are more highly valued than the companies, which own them. Not surprisingly again, brand development and management is a fast-track career option which provides a host of advancement opportunities.

Brand management is a newly evolved specialised function, which involves creating and nurturing a successful brand (or set of brands) with the objective of enhancing its image, recall, and longevity in a fiercely competitive environment influenced by innumerable environmental and non-environmental variables. Hitherto marketeers designated product managers managed brands. But with incremental brand awareness in corporate India, product managers have morphed into brand managers and are responsible for brand development to improve its visibility, market share, and market value.

As the Indian marketplace becomes increasingly crowded and competitive, development of brand identities for products, corporate and even individuals has become a prerequisite of effective marketing. Consequently, the demand for professional managers is escalating. Remuneration packages in this field are very good, with career and compensation advancement based on achievement.

As such, brand managers are required to focus their attention upon market research and development, packaging, manufacturing, sales and distribution, communications, and forecasting. In particular, forecasting involves keeping track of sales trends, anticipating response to marketing campaigns and competitive brands, new launches etc.

Brand management jobs are available aplenty, particularly in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies marketing foods, soaps, soft drinks, tobacco, drugs, cosmetics, and liquor. Moreover, latterly service sector businesses like banks, insurance companies, advertising agencies, television channels, and newspaper organisations too are employing brand managers who usually rise to the top rungs of the executive ladder.

A more recent development is that management consultancy firms have begun hiring marketing managers to develop clients brands. They are increasingly recruiting marketing professionals with expertise in branding, market research, public relations, pricing, and business-to-business marketing expertise.

The usual route for entry-level positions in industry or service sector firms is a Masters degree or postgraduate diploma in business administration (MBA), preferably from an IIM. Some firms do hire fresh graduates depending upon their aptitude and flair. The other route to enter the brand management business is by acquiring communications/advertising experience. The skill sets required are creativity, communication, and marketing savvy.

Business study programmes with specialisation in brand marketing are offered by more than 50 universities across the country. Among the premier institutes/universities for management and marketing studies (including brand management) are:

Indian Institutes of Management (at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, and Kozhikode)

Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi

Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar

BHU Faculty of Management Studies, Varanasi

Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune

S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai

Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

M.P. Birla Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

Samsika Academy of Brand Management, Mumbai

Brand management in the United Breweries group of companies has evolved into a scientific process of identifying consumers, evaluating their needs and fulfilling them. This requires paying special attention to the component functions of marketing, especially market research, media planning, advertising, and sales and distribution,” says Gurpreet Singh, group product manager, UB Ltd who manages the transnational Kingfisher beer brand.

A commerce graduate of Bangalore University who acquired his MBA from the T.A. Pai Management Institute, Manipal in 1998, Singh has been managing the Kingfisher brand — numero uno in the national Rs.4,800 crore beer market and sold in over 55 countries — for the past six-and-a-half years and believes that Kingfisher is one of Indias most well-known brands across all product categories. In a fragmented market of various regional brands, innovation is the key driver. To that extent, Kingfisher has many firsts to its credit.

It was the first beer to aspire to become a national brand. To fulfil this aspiration we made considerable investment in advertising and celebrity endorsements. Moreover we were the first to promote pack and product variants like pints, cans, draught, and strong beer. In addition, our association with sports and the fashion world has gone a long way in making Kingfisher a lifestyle brand. All this without compromising on the basics of providing the consumer with an excellent beer at an affordable price. Inspite of being around for half a century, Kingfisher remains a brand youth identify with and has a high recall value. Moreover because of the UB Groups successful brand promotion systems and strategies, the Kingfisher logo and jingle are recognised around the world,” says Singh.

Brand management as a career option offers immense possibilities. With most countries eliminating trade barriers, competition in every product category has intensified. The commodities era is over and only those companies which invest and build successful brands will survive. Future brand managers will need to be mentally alert and nimble to adapt their strategies to the needs of continuously evolving markets where consumer preferences change rapidly. Against this backdrop brand development and management will become vital for companies doing business in the emerging global marketplace,” forecasts Singh.


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