What Is Strategic Brand Management?
(6 Active Steps To Success)

Successful brands don’t just happen. They’re not made up of some visuals, a product offer and a side serving of good luck.

Successful brands are built with hard work and consistency through an ongoing process of Strategic Brand Management.

Only brands that are managed strategically have a fighting chance of success. 

Those that aren’t drift aimlessly and eventually hit the rocks.

In this article, you’ll learn what strategic brand management is and how to create your brand management process.

Successful brands don’t just happen. They’re not made up of some visuals, a product offer and a side serving of good luck.

Successful brands are built with hard work and consistency through an ongoing process of Strategic Brand Management.

Only brands that are managed strategically have a fighting chance of success. 

Those that aren’t drift aimlessly and eventually hit the rocks.

In this article, you’ll learn what strategic brand management is and how to create your brand management process.

What Is Strategic Brand Management?

(12 Process Elements)

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What Is Strategic Brand Management?

Although the term strategic brand management might seem pretty straightforward, it’s anything but. The vast majority of the world’s brands are developed with little more than some visual assets.

Fewer brands are developed with a robust brand strategy and fewer still are managed consistently through strategic brand management.

To manage a brand effectively and strategically requires a competent brand manager who understands the importance of consistent strategic communication while boasting the skills to execute on the strategy of the brand.

Strategic Brand Management Definition

Strategic brand management is the process of managing internal and external brand activities in a strategic manner to ultimately grow the brand reputation and equity

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Strategic Brand Manager Responsibilities

The “Brand Manager” is an all-encompassing role, which adopts a broad set of responsibilities from communication to operation and everything in-between.

Although the brand manager doesn’t execute most of these responsibilities (beyond small startups), they oversee all output related to the management and communication of the brand including

Brand Design

UX / UI Design

Messaging

Copywriting

Tone Of Voice

Brand Personality

Brand Experience

Marketing Strategy

Marketing Execution

Marketing Management

Each of these activities influences how the brand is perceived in the market and ultimately it’s that perception (And the harvest of that perception) that strategic brand management aims to achieve.

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Why Is Strategic Brand Management Important?

A brand is an entity made up of many moving parts that all need to work together seamlessly, cohesively and consistently in order to grow as it’s intended to.

Only brands that are proactively and strategically managed can be consistent enough for the magic of branding to have it’s desired affect.

Every touchpoint throughout the brand experience represents another opportunity for the brand to plant a seed in the mind of the audience about what the brand means and why it should be remembered.

Growing a brand in this way requires meticulous management from centralizing digital assets to ensuring consistent messaging across all platforms.

Beyond the day-to-day communications and operations of the brand, strategic brand management also aims to analyze the market landscape to foresee shifts in trends and make adjustments where necessary.

Brand Strategy vs Brand Management

A brand strategy is the strategic plan to achieve the objectives of the brand as defined by the brand strategist.

The strategist that forges the plan of attack doesn’t necessarily execute the plan. Although many strategists double as brand managers, the roles are separate.

Whether the strategy is forged by an independent strategist or not, the brand is managed using the strategy as a navigation tool. 

Using the strategy for navigation the brand manager takes the reigns of the brand to execute on the strategy as well as manage and monitor brand performance and growth

Keller’s Strategic Brand Management

Kevin Lane Keller is a leading expert in the field of strategic brand management and has literally wrote the book on the topic.

His book “Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity”, looks at brands from the perspective on the consumer and provides a brand equity framework to define and measure the equity of a brand.

Keller uses insights from academics and industry practitioners and draws on case studies of brand from all over the world.

Keller approaches Strategic Brand Management with a foot in both the art and the science.

“Is marketing management an art or a science? Some marketing observers maintain the good marketing is more of an art and does not lend itself to rigorous analysis and deliberation. Others strongly disagree and contend that marketing management is a highly disciplined enterprise that has much in common with other business disciplines”

The Strategic Brand Management Process

There are many moving parts to a strategic brand. They all require careful analysis and monitoring to ensure they’re all part of a cohesive system to develop an intended reputation and of course, grow the brand’s equity.

Here are the key components.

Target Audience & Market Segments

Although buyer personas or audience avatars (Which are the same thing by the way) are created early on in the brand strategy development process, these personas are dynamic and always evolving.

Through analytics and customer interactions and feedback, the brand management team can learn more about the customers to better give them what they need.

Positioning Strategy & Competitive Advantage

The position of the brand is also defined as part of the brand strategy process and the differentiation at the cornerstone of that strategy represents the competitive advantage (in other words, why customer would choose them over their competitors).

As markets evolve, so do competitors and strategic brand management requires ongoing monitoring of competitors, their capabilities and offers to ensure competitive advantage is maintained.

Brand Personality & Tone Of Voice

The personality and tone of voice of the brand is intertwined with who the audience is and what they’re attracted to. As the brand evolves so too may the audience and how the brand connects with them.

Old Spice is a perfect example of this when they charged their personality and tone after 75 years to better reflect their younger market in 2010.

Brand Messaging & Storytelling

Consistent messaging is a fundamental branding principal that has never been as important as it is today. 

With so many touchpoints across the brand experience, inconsistent communication that delivers one message on one platform and an entirely different one on another can cause confusion leading to distrust.

Brand Identity & Presence

The visual brand identity and the representations of that brand from the website to the interior decoration of the store or customer-facing office is also in the wheelhouse of the brand manager.

Managing and displaying up-to-date digital assets is the main challenge to ensure any changes are rolled out across all touchpoints systematically to avoid misalignment.

Regular communication between the brand manager and the design & communications team streamlines the management process.

Customer Journey & Brand Experience

The brand manager should have an intimate knowledge base and understanding about who the customer is, the lives they lead and the challenges they have.

With this understanding they can develop a customer journey experience that aligns with the position of the brand and the image the audience should have of the brand.

Even a single touchpoint that is misaligned with what the brand says it is or what it believes can sabotage an otherwise cohesive brand experience.

Employer Branding

Employer branding is the responsibility of the brand manager and like all other components needs requires management.

To grow a successful brand, that brand needs to be as healthy on the inside as it appears on the outside. Employer branding aims to build the reputation of the brand within the workforce market as a great place to work.

Such a reputation can only grow on merit and such a healthy working environment increases satisfaction, output and overall brand equity.

Employee Branding

With a satisfied workforce, brand management can leverage the willingness and desire of employees to contribute to building the brand reputation.

By creating processes of in-depth brand training and expression, employees can deliver on-brand messaging to contribute to a cohesive brand experience.

Brand Architecture

As brands grow, so do their product-line, service line or brand portfolio. To deliver clear messaging and understanding both internally and externally, strategic brand managers analyze the architecture of the brand.

With strategic brand architecture, a brand can take advantage of market opportunities, remain clear to the consumer, increase market share or do all the above.

Marketing Strategy

Along with managing the “Why”, “What” & “How” of the brand, the brand manager also directs the “Where” and “When” of the brand messages through the marketing strategy.

A deep understanding of the audience including: 

Where they congregate, 

Platforms they leverage, 

What they want, 

Why they want it

How they feel

Are the knowledge pillars required for any effective marketing strategy. 

Strategic brand managers (often with the assistance of marketing managers and / or strategists), defines the how the brands messages will be delivered to the market.

Marketing Execution

Execution of marketing strategy happens at a specialist level. The strategy may include:

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Marketing Funnels

Content Marketing

Display Ads (Banner Ads)

PPC (Pay-Per-Click Ads)

Direct Response

Retargeting

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation)

Any one of these disciplines are areas of specialisation that require dedicated specialists to execute, though all should work as part of a cohesive system, overseen by the brand manager

Measurement & Analysis

The effectiveness of marketing tactics and techniques in line with individual and collective goals is a requirement of effective brand management.

If certain tactics or the overall marketing strategy is failing, the brand manager is required to make strategic adjustments to change results of the overall branding and marketing efforts.

Effective and strategic management of the brand requires nimble decision-making on the front lines with steadfast consistency overall

 

Over To You

The modern strategic brand manager role is not for the feint of heart.

A brand is a dynamic entity with countless components all moving in unison as a cohesive machine.

Much like the captain of an ocean liner, brand managers cannot be on the coal front in order to steer the ship effectively. 

Though granular decisions such as how much coal to burn will affect where it going and if or not it will ever reach it’s destination.