Speakers Give Students an Overview of Brand Management
Brand management is about more than getting merchandise on the shelves. It involves the creation and positioning of a product that speaks to consumers' deepest needs and concerns, industry professionals told Yale SOM students during a September 13 talk on campus.
"A brand promises an experience," said Natalie Levine '06, a brand manager at Procter & Gamble. Pointing to the corporate icons for Target, Nike, iPod, and Hello Kitty as examples, Levine asked what gives these brands their allure. "Is it just a logo?" she asked. "Is it just a name? No, it's a lot more. It's about what these brands give you when you experience them."
Levine and Gwynedd Davis, an assistant brand manager at P&G, gave SOM students an overview of the brand management function during an event sponsored by the Marketing Club. The speakers described the comprehensive role brand managers play.
"Brand management is about owning the brand," Levine said. "It really is about bringing everything together, from building your product to getting your product into the consumer's hands."
Because establishing a brand's equity, or what it will represent in the hearts and minds of consumers, is key to success, research aimed at zeroing in on what motivates potential consumers is a crucial early step in shaping a branding theme.
"You immerse yourself in the consumer and find those deep insights," Davis said. "You have to look at things from the consumer's perspective."
The traits that ultimately lead to brand success include relevance in the marketplace; a product's authenticity and competitiveness; clarity of purpose; and consistent product performance. Once launched, a product must faithfully deliver on its promise; as Levine put it, Starbucks coffee has to be a good cup of coffee every time a customer drinks it.
The speakers used the launch of Apple's iPod device as an example of brilliant brand management. They pointed to the device's clear brand equity promise—unleashing the freedom of personal entertainment; its defined target audience; and its distinct look, feel, and store display, all of which are consistent with the overall Apple brand.
"You need to create a brand experience that covers everything," Davis said. "With the iPod, you have this very 'Apple' experience that's very much part of the brand. This is all about strategy."
After their presentation, the speakers answered a variety of student questions about their positions. "Natalie and Gwynedd provided great insights into the brand management role, which will be helpful in the recruiting process," Marketing Club co-leader Bettina Scott '13 said afterwards. "When alumni return to campus, it's always a terrific opportunity to learn about an organization's work and impact."