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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development

What Does a Brand Manager Do?

"Don’t wait for the perfect role or make excuses as to why you’re not ready to get started."

Woman drawing on a tablet
Photo courtesy of Surface

This article is part of InHerSight's What Do You Do? series. This series explores the working lives of women by job title. Readers can get a glimpse of what it's like to work as an account executive, software developer, restaurant manager, and more.

What does a brand manager do?

Whether they’re people, products, or services, you interact with brands every day. Apple, Wendy’s (the Wendy’s Twitter account, a fan favorite), Beyoncé, and InHerSight are all brands with a specific goal and audience in mind, and they each have marketing teams working to maintain a consistent voice and story so your experience with the brand never flops.

A huge contributor to said team, the brand manager is responsible for strategy and ensuring a brand continues to resonate. They know the ins and outs of their marketplace and help to position their brand in any and all marketing and advertising initiatives. Developing collateral, overseeing promotions, signing off on advertising concepts, understanding pricing, and reorienting a brand’s focus to target more customers all fall under a brand manager’s job description. 

As for background? Well, you’ll learn from our contributors below that brand managers develop their storytelling prowess through a variety of career paths. But common denominators include: expert writing skills, boundless creativity, top analytical skills, solid relationship management, budget awareness, and a deep consciousness of their brand. Here are three women on how and why they became brand managers, and how you can become one, too. 

Emily Patz

DonorPerfect Brand Manager for SofterWare with 12 year of experience

What’s your professional background, and why did you pursue your current career?

From launching a blog for a local vintage shop to merchandising and copywriting for growing San Francisco e-commerce startups, my debut in brand storytelling and content marketing took place in the fast-paced world of fashion. After several years covering consignment steals and celebrity style, I expanded my portfolio by joining the marketing team at the Esurance corporate offices as a copywriter before moving back to the East Coast and landing at SofterWare to fill their marketing team’s first dedicated content role. At five years and counting at SofterWare, I’ve helped define and grow the DonorPerfect brand and launched a freelance business that enables me to pick up projects beyond my 9-5. 

I knew I wanted to write ever since my hardcore poet phase at the age of 8 when my mom introduced me to Shel Silverstein. Fascinated with the way the words seemed to swing and pop from line to line, I immediately bought a notepad that I carried with me everywhere with the belief that I could do it, too. Not “someday,” but right away. I was committed, even translating “dress for the job you want” by wearing a beret and gold-buttoned vest with embroidered dogs on it, a cringeworthy look that’s been immortalized in a framed photo in my parents’ living room. And while I’m not a bestselling poet and my list of favorite books and writing style has changed so much over the years, I’m glad that I never talked myself out of my first love—which is writing of any kind. 

How do you help the company​? 

I work with our talented team of creatives to build a brand that champions and celebrates the DonorPerfect community. Together, we amplify stories and develop resources to support the game-changing work of fundraisers who continuously show us the way forward both as professionals and as people. 

What’s the hardest part of your job? 

As brand manager, I both author ​and​ execute strategy, which means developing a resonant story, defining deliverables, communicating with team members, creating content, and reviewing and refining work simultaneously. Although the pace and frequent change of focus can be dizzying, the opportunities to create and elevate work with my team members give me new ideas and inspiration to leverage on and off the clock.

What’s the best part of your job? 

I’ve had many, many jobs in my life, and nothing has been as rewarding as the work that I do at SofterWare. At the end of each day I know the work my team creates helps fundraisers in their world-changing work. And at a time when the need for equity and racial justice is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, dedicating my days to supporting those who progress our society forward is a great privilege. 

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in your role?

Immerse yourself in the work. Don’t wait for the perfect role or make excuses as to why you’re not ready to get started. No class will teach you what doing the actual work will. If you want to write, write. It’s really that simple. If you don’t have a paid job yet, start your own blog so you have samples to get that first gig. My first professional blogging job was in a storeroom surrounded by trash bags of thrift store clothing, and it got me to my next step. It also awarded me a network of immensely talented friends who I still love and collaborate with today. With a world of stories waiting to be told (including your own), you have a limitless amount of opportunities to get in the game. Get it, girl!

Heidi Lowry

Sr. Brand Campaign Manager at Markforged with 15 years of experience

What does a brand manager do?

A brand manager is responsible for developing and executing brand strategies utilizing a variety of data around the target consumer. Brand managers focus on both short- and long-term brand business objectives. 

What’s your professional background, and why did you pursue your current career?

My background is in consumer brand marketing (Sonos, Converse among others). After college, I moved to NYC to work for a music magazine with the ultimate goal of working in the music industry. While I was working at the music magazine I saw the brand marketing that was happening in the culture and entertainment spaces. I decided to make a pivot to the brand world because it seemed like fun and it was an opportunity to combine my passions for music and marketing. My pivot happened when the music industry was declining due to the arrival of streaming services (Napster, etc.). With that said, I also thought it wasn't a good time to work in the music industry from a job security perspective.

How do you help the company?

My job is to grow the awareness and perception of the Markforged brand.

What does a typical workday look like?

There is no typical workday! My week is usually a mix of creative meetings with our agency partners, being on set at a photo or film shoot, brainstorms with my fellow marketing teammates/agency partners and weekly project check-ins. I also ensure I have time for myself, which is usually a workout and/or time with my dog.

What are the three most important parts of your job?

  • Keeping the consumer and company mission at the heart of all work
  • Collaborating with my colleagues and agency partners
  • Being agile

What’s the hardest part of your job?

I believe the hardest part can change. Currently, as a newish Markforged employee, I have a lot of ideas that I want to execute from a marketing perspective, but I don't have the bandwidth to execute them at 110 percent. To help keep me in check, I remind myself of our company and marketing objectives for the year and ask myself, "Will this help contribute to achieving our company and/or marketing goals for this year?" If not, it gets moved to the bottom of the priority list.

What’s the best part of your job?

The opportunity to collaborate with people in various creative fields—I'm so inspired by them. I also love being at a company that is at the forefront of innovation.

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in being a brand manager?

Do your homework—keep an eye on what brands are doing from a marketing perspective, trends, research creative and marketing agencies, etc.

Allyssa Eclarin

Self-employed Creative Product Marketer and Brand Manager with 13 years of experience

What does a brand manager do?

A brand manager ensures that everything the brand touches is cohesive, authentic to who they are, and effectively "on brand." They ensure that the brand is best represented across messaging, voice and tone, content output (aka blogs, etc), creative, design, social media captions, customer experience, partnerships and community programs, and outreach.

What’s your professional background, and why did you pursue your current career?

My background is in graphic design. I went to college in hopes of working in the music industry post-graduation, but iTunes crushed the likelihood of any record label needing an on-staff graphic designer so I pivoted and moved back to the Bay Area to work in the web design world and after doing my own business for a few years (design, screenprinting and web dev), I journeyed into the tech startup life. This journey gave me a world-class, hands-on education on all things marketing. Because of this, I've worn every hat in marketing, and today I stand in front of you as a well-rounded marketing generalist who knows what it takes to build a top-notch marketing team but if need be can do all the work of a marketing team in one beanie-wearing individual.

How do you help companies?

I recently started using the analogy of The Home Edit but for brands (shoutout to my friend Kristan for that) because it's what I do minus the clear tote storage. My diverse experience allows me to jump in where things might need a little more TLC. From messaging/positioning to design to voice and tone to partnerships or community programs, etc. In true Renaissance Soul fashion, I can do a lot of things so I help companies with what they need, and if I can't do it myself or if I don't have the bandwidth, I know plenty of awesomely talented folks who can assist.

What does a typical workday look like?

Professionally speaking, my day starts after a great workout and some coffee. Emails in the morning to see if anything is pressing and needs to be addressed right away. Run through Slack and see if anything is urgent and then head on Twitter to see what I missed from the night before. Then it's off to the races—meetings, designing, sketching, writing, etc are my usually daily go-to's.

What are the three most important parts of your job?

  • Listening
  • Researching
  • Distilling/facilitating information

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Balancing and assessing what to tackle first, especially if you have deadlines that run into one another. I like doing things quickly and most of the time that isn't feasible with multiple projects and deadlines. So learning to coordinate and delegate has been lifesaving for me and my time management.

What’s the best part of your job?

Creating something from nothing. I'm one of those people who loves the process. The end result is cool and all, but I live for the various comps, the ideation, and the in-between conversations. Working on strategy and positioning is how a brand "finds" itself. Some of my favorite conversations are in these brainstorming meetings where awesome ideas happen from tangents or personal experience.

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in being a brand manager?

Talk to everyone from any walk of life. Your experience doesn't have to rely on formal education or a marketing or design book you read. Read books from all genres, observe people in the grocery store, watch commercials, listen to music, etc. Absorbing the information around you is the best way to give yourself a unique perspective as a brand manager. References to what you know/learned will be where you find yourself pulling from during meetings, brainstorms, design chats, etc.

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