Assistant Brand Manager track?

I'm doing some job research for my GF and we've came to the conclusion that brand management at a CPG is a good fit for her. However, I can't figure out the standard career path for undergraduate marketing majors to become an assistant brand manager.

Why kind of jobs should she apply to before BM? is it possible to go straight into BM from a non-target school? What should she be reading/studying? Any other tips?

From what I understand, brand management and consulting tackle the same strategic issues but consultants get broad exposure at the cost of not knowing a single product/company/brand extremely well. Your MBB consulting firms will focus more on strategy whereas BM will actually oversee the execution of strategy also.

Comments (12)

May 3, 2013 - 12:52pm
Anarchyz11, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Brand Management sounds a lot more like a marketing things, dealing with brand image and the like, which comes from marketing.

It sounds like one of those positions that will be different between companies. No idea about a direct route.

However, Payscale.com lists common past jobs of "Brand Manager" as both "Assistant Brand Manager", "Marketing Manager", and "Marketing Intern".

Branding usually does fall under marketing.

Array
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May 3, 2013 - 2:37pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Brand management is kinda communications, kinda marketing. It can be similar to consulting depending on the type of consulting you're talking about.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
May 3, 2013 - 4:24pm
Unforseen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very hard to get into, especially at firms like Unilever, Danone, P&G, etc.

Usually you need experience in marketing/management/supply chain management. Some of the stuff they do its kind of cool from a marketing perspective.

Best Response
May 3, 2013 - 8:07pm
Accrual Dictator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

From my understanding, being a brand manager is akin to being an owner of a product line (or "brand", hence the name). It's a multidisciplinary field that deals with positioning the brand and making sure it's competitive/profitable relative to competitors. From the people I've spoken with, there's no "set" path to becoming a brand manager and doing a Linkedin search reveals the same thing.

When I did a search (I've been considering brand management as well, so that's why I did it), I found that lots of people had technical backgrounds in engineering, but there were also people with finance backgrounds, consulting, even accounting => finance => brand manager was seen a few times. Sales + consulting were the ones that came up most frequently, however, and it makes sense because in sales, you learn how to sell your product and consulting gives you that big picture thinking skill set. It's not like banking it seems, however, in that you "must": do the IB to get into PE/Corp Dev or anything like that.

The other big thing was that a lot of these guys seemed to be post-MBA marketing types. I think you'll only get into brand management after an MBA, so I think your focus should on getting her into the best possible MBA she can. It seems almost impossible to do right out of undergrad because it requires expertise in a lot of areas (you'll need to know some accounting, some finance, some management, some marketing, etc.; you own the line so you need to be the jack of all trades it seems). Additionally, if you want to do it at a tech company, it appears that a technical background in engineering seems nearly mandatory.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on the issue. Again, I'm not in brand management, but I've also researched this area and this is the information I've gleaned from the interwebs + people I've spoken with.

May 4, 2013 - 4:55pm
couchy, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Accrual Dictator:

From my understanding, being a brand manager is akin to being an owner of a product line (or "brand", hence the name). It's a multidisciplinary field that deals with positioning the brand and making sure it's competitive/profitable relative to competitors. From the people I've spoken with, there's no "set" path to becoming a brand manager and doing a Linkedin search reveals the same thing.

Yes you are correct - it includes branding but focuses on what you said above. Another title I've seen in project management.

Since you've thought about this career before - did you think of an similar careers? I probed into her thought process a bit more and she is basically interested in competitive analysis and innovating for business growth, which is why brand management seemed a good fit.

There's no way she'll get a consulting job at the moment - her only internship includes an investing/marketing role at a small PE fund.

May 3, 2013 - 9:42pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Abercrombie has a "Brand Senses" leadership program btw, no MBA required: http://www.anfcareers.com/Page/brand_senses

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
May 4, 2013 - 6:22pm
Accrual Dictator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, the thing is, there's so little substitute for a "strategy" type of job. Someone else can correct me if I'm off the mark, but I really think that if you want this badly enough, you'll just have to network your way into it. I'm also in a position where consulting/IB are tough, so that's why I'm looking at most industry finance jobs (my background is in finance). The substitute for her could potentially be sales/advertising is my guess. Quant backgrounds are useful though in marketing, so if she can take a job that demonstrates analytical thinking, etc. that may work as well.

Sorry I can't be more helpful, but I think the situation is similar to what kids who don't break into IB face. It's basically a question of taking something relevant, then networking and trying to impress the right people to get where you need to be. The good news (in a way), however, is that these opportunities open up a lot after an MBA, so if she can kill her GMAT and show growth in her job to get into a T15 school or so, I'm sure she can do it. If she needs a good place to start studying for the GMAT, tell her to look into the Manhattan GMAT guides. Those will help her get the 700+ she needs for places like Duke, UCLA, Virginia, etc. which will give her a great shot at brand management post MBA.

May 6, 2013 - 5:22pm
Bullet-Tooth Tony, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Brand managers literally run their own brands or product line. They are responsible for marketing, advertising, P&L, cost-benefit analysis, investment (i.e. new equipment, logo), etc.

So, it is unlikely she would be able to land right into an assistant BR position. You probably need to go through the general marketing first.

BR's make good money and most multinationals ($100K+), so expect assistant to be something you hit after 2-4 years into the job (depending on progression).

There are people from the the M7 that move into brand manager roles after MBA.

May 6, 2013 - 8:59pm
couchy, what's your opinion? Comment below:
peinvestor2012:

Brand managers literally run their own brands or product line. They are responsible for marketing, advertising, P&L, cost-benefit analysis, investment (i.e. new equipment, logo), etc.

So, it is unlikely she would be able to land right into an assistant BR position. You probably need to go through the general marketing first.

BR's make good money and most multinationals ($100K+), so expect assistant to be something you hit after 2-4 years into the job (depending on progression).

There are people from the the M7 that move into brand manager roles after MBA.

Do you mind explaining a couple of decent jobs within marketing that can lead to working in BM. The career paths for BM and marketing in general seem to be highly variable. What kind of job titles should we be looking at?

I imagine an internship advertising over twitter for a company doesn't count within the marketing you're talking about.

May 6, 2013 - 9:21pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The BM career path is highly variable. You are fully responsible for the way consumers perceive that brand. There is no one path there. Read Accrual Dictator's post, that has some great info. And it shows that BMs come from a variety of backgrounds.

Really it seems like it comes down to being exceptional.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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May 6, 2013 - 10:06pm
Bullet-Tooth Tony, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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