Brand managers are tasked with managing all identity aspects of a product or service, as well as overseeing advertising and marketing initiatives to ensure that they’re in line with the brand’s identity and messaging. The nature of the role requires frequent interfacing with other roles and departments including research, product development, marketing, external creative agencies, and more, so it’s imperative that a brand manager is a team player and an exceptional communicator who can bridge these varied interests and create a unified message for the brand.
But beyond these basic soft skills (which, really, are required of professionals filling a variety of roles these days), what does it take to make a successful brand manager? What are the skills and characteristics shared by many of today’s most prominent brand management professionals? What educational background and experience are needed to land a brand management role – and what does it really take to succeed? We took a deep dive into available data on the backgrounds and experience required to land a role in brand management today, salary information, and the essential skills required for success in the challenging field of brand management to answer these questions and more.
In this guide, we’ll discuss:
- An Overview of Brand Managers
- Educational Background and Work Experience
- Where Brand Managers Work
- Salary Information for Successful Brand Managers
- Who Are Today’s Top Brand Managers
- Traits and Characteristics of the Most Successful Brand Managers
An Overview of Brand Managers
Brand identity is a core component of all major brands today, and substantial effort goes into the making (and solidifying) of a brand identity behind the scenes. Leading that charge is the brand manager, who takes the all-encompassing role of ensuring that the multiple functions that influence the brand’s identity are working in tandem and reinforcing the driving message associated with the brand. Robert Walters sums it up nicely: “A Brand Manager is responsible for adapting a brand strategy for a company’s target market. As the ‘brand guardian’, brand managers maintain brand integrity across all company marketing initiatives and communications, and may manage a portfolio of products.”
But brand managers are more than merely oversight professionals. They’re often involved in product development, such as when a company is considering launching a new product or service in a brand manager’s existing product or service lineup. They’re also heavily involved in market research, digging deep into the data to determine where their brand fits best by analyzing the competitive landscape, including products and spending, analyzing consumer interests to ensure product-market fit, and using predictive analytics to gain foresight into upcoming shifts and trends that may impact the brand’s success – and pivoting rapidly to accommodate those changes.
While brand managers aren’t necessarily marketing executives, per say, nor are they advertising execs, they’re often involved in creating marketing and advertising campaigns and overseeing execution and budgets for those campaigns. Overall, brand managers may be tasked with a wide variety of responsibilities including:
- Developing and overseeing overall brand strategy: from establishing brand goals to developing brand identity guidelines, creating style guides, and developing a value proposition
- Aiding in product development and coordinating product launches
- Identifying untapped opportunities and actively developing new opportunities
- Attending industry conferences or events, coordinating sponsorships and vendor opportunities
- Developing and executing corporate responsibility programs
- Engaging in ongoing market research, including consumer/audience research and competitive analysis
- Working with creative teams to develop brand assets and collateral in line with the brand’s identity
- Analyzing sales forecasts and measuring results such as sales revenue, marketing campaign effectiveness, etc.
Clearly, the role of a brand manager is a multi-faceted one. While some professionals prefer to have a laser focus on one aspect of marketing or advertising, some professionals are particularly well-suited to the demands of a role that requires both big picture-vision and simultaneously getting hands-on at the granular level. The typical salary of a brand manager is commensurate with the breadth and depth of the skill set required to handle these varied responsibilities, averaging between $80,900 – $151,260 nationally, according to Chegg Internships.
Educational Background and Work Experience
The typical brand manager has an undergraduate degree (at minimum) in a relevant major, such as a marketing or advertising-related field of study or a business-focused major, as well as several years of hands-on marketing experience.
Some employers look for candidates with advanced degrees, such as an MBA, coupled with relevant work experience in a similar industry. Considering the many specialized functions brand managers are involved in, a graduate degree can be quite beneficial for students interested in pursuing a career in this field, providing an opportunity to develop strong foundational knowledge of core concepts such as advertising, economics, marketing, and business.
For undergraduate students interested in a brand management career, there are several worthwhile majors to consider:
- Marketing / Marketing & Management
- Business, with a concentration in Marketing
- Business Administration
- Journalism, Mass Communication, and Public Relations
- Commercial and Advertising Art / Graphic Design
- Media and Communications
- Digital Marketing / Digital Media
Due to the popularity of most of these majors and their broad applicability to a variety of career paths, most colleges and universities offer these and/or closely related majors. According to LinkedIn’s data, the top 10 universities among brand manager members on the platform include:
- CIM | The Chartered Institute of Marketing: 4,378 members
- Northwestern University – The Kellogg School of Management – 3,406 members
- New York University – 2,826 members
- Harvard Business School – 2,269 members
- The Wharton School – 2,257 members
- University of California, Los Angeles – 2,130 members
- INSEAD – 2,094 members
- Cornell University – 1,882 members
- Delhi University – 1,798 members
- NYU Stern School of Business – 1,625 members
Here’s a closer look at a few of the common fields of study pursued by today’s top brand management professionals and some of the leading educational institutions offering such programs.
Marketing and Marketing & Management
Marketing is a common undergraduate major, and while undergraduate degree programs in marketing management are harder to find, there are some universities that offer the option. Alternatively, students may opt to major in business administration with a concentration in marketing (discussed below). Marketing management degree programs prepare students for responsibilities such as researching potential market opportunities, developing pricing strategies, and monitoring consumer trends – all important functions of a brand manager. General marketing degrees may include similar courses but tend to have a more general focus on the foundational concepts of the marketing field, including marketing strategies, consumer behavior, market research, and new media marketing, as well as core business courses. At the graduate level, students have the opportunity to study advanced business and marketing concepts. A few examples of universities offering top-quality degree programs or concentrations in marketing or marketing management include:
- Southern New Hampshire University
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Northwestern University
- University of Chicago
- Pace University
- Penn State University
- University of Minnesota
Business Administration and Management (some with Marketing Concentration)
Students pursuing undergraduate education in business administration learn valuable concepts such as how to develop and communicate a shared vision for an organization, developing and evaluating leadership plans, data analysis, communication, risk mitigation, policy and procedure development, and other essential skills that prove useful to any brand manager. Students who go on to pursue an advanced degree (such as an MBA) may benefit from greater career prospects in brand management, particularly if they select a marketing-related specialization for their graduate studies. As business administration is a popular major, you’ll find undergraduate programs in this area of study at practically every university. Some of the leading educational institutions for undergraduate and graduate-level business administration studies include:
- University of Maryland University College
- Temple University
- The University of Illinois at Chicago
- The University of North Texas at Austin
- University of Michigan
- The George Washington University
- Harvard University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Stanford University
- MIT Sloan
Journalism, Mass Communication, and Public Relations
Journalism, mass communication, and public relations degree programs come in several varieties. Most often, degree programs are focused on journalism and mass communications, while public relations degrees are often packaged as separate programs of study. These programs focus on functional skills such as news reporting, news analysis, writing, and communications, often with a heavy emphasis on media. While these programs of study don’t focus as heavily on the business skills a brand manager requires, students can opt to minor in a business-related field for a well-rounded skill set. Because a brand manager needs exceptional writing abilities to effectively communicate brand messaging, graduates of these programs are equipped with a valuable skill that will serve them well should they pursue a brand management career. A few of the leading educational institutions offering quality journalism, mass communication, and public relations programs of study include:
- Boston University
- The University of Iowa
- Texas State University
- Lincoln University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Kent State University
- Towson University
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Arizona State University
- University of North Carolina
- University of Georgia
Media and Communications
Students who major in media and communications emerge with a working knowledge of a variety of media platforms, essential for today’s brand managers who must navigate a variety of communications channels and digital media platforms to communicate brand messaging. Like journalism and mass communications, these degree programs often go by various names, such as Media, Culture, and Communication, Communications – New Media, Communication and Media, and several other variations. A few of the educational institutions offering quality programs of study in the areas of media and communications include:
- New York University
- Southern New Hampshire University
- DePaul University
- Louisiana State University
- Thomas Jefferson University
- Temple University
- Drew University
- Michigan State University
- Purdue University
- Johns Hopkins University
Graphic Design, Commercial and Advertising Art
Graphic design and commercial and advertising art is a less-common educational path to becoming a brand manager, but the skills learned in these programs prove valuable for brand managers who are heavily involved in the design of brand assets and collateral. In addition to undergraduate programs, a number of colleges and universities offer certificate programs, which can make for a great add-on to an undergraduate degree in business or marketing. Students typically take courses in design and illustration, color theory, computer graphics, and web design. A few of the institutions offering undergraduate or certificate programs in these focal areas include:
- Moore College of Art & Design
- Ashland University
- California State University – Long Beach
- Pasadena City College
- Miami Dade College
- Pratt Institute
- School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- Nossi College of Art
- Orange Coast College
- Penn State University
- Southeastern University
- University of Maryland University College
Digital Marketing and Digital Media
A closely related area of study to the graphic design and commercial art programs above, digital marketing and digital media programs may be broader in terms of content, encompassing a variety of skills and functions such as social media, analytics, content marketing, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and more. While this area of study is perhaps the most directly relevant to the responsibilities of a brand manager, it’s more common for brand managers to have degrees in fields such as marketing and business administration. As digital marketing and digital media degree and certificate programs are becoming increasingly common, it’s possible that more students interested in careers in brand management will pursue this field of study in the coming years. A few colleges and universities offering robust degree and certificate programs in digital marketing and digital media include:
- Arizona State University
- Santa Clara University
- University of Connecticut
- George Washington University
- Georgetown University
- Stevenson University
- Rutgers University
- Michigan University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- University of Washington
Where Brand Managers Work
Brand managers work for companies spanning practically every industry, from marketing and advertising agencies to consumer goods, pharmaceutical companies, retail and e-commerce companies, food and beverage companies, and more.
LinkedIn identifies the top industries employing brand managers based on members holding the title of Senior Brand Manager:
- Marketing & Advertising: 33,703 members
- Consumer Goods: 17,876 members
- Pharmaceuticals: 7,817 members
- Food & Beverages: 6,996 members
- Retail: 6,033 members
- Information Technology & Services: 3,479 members
- Internet: 3,103 members
- Management Consulting: 2,894 members
- Financial Services: 2,850 members
- Public Relations & Communications: 2,293 members
According to LinkedIn’s data, the top companies employing brand managers include:
- Unilever: 1,613 members
- Procter & Gamble: 963 members
- Nestlé: 952 members
- L’Oréal: 715 members
- PepsiCo: 689 members
- Johnson & Johnson: 626 members
- RB: 578 members
- The Coca-Cola Company: 549 members
- Amazon: 503 members
- Google: 458 members
As brand managers often take ownership of a single product line – or in some cases, a single product or service – it’s common for major enterprises that have dozens to hundreds of individual brands to employ multiple brand managers to focus exclusively on those individual products or services.
Here’s a look at some of the major industries employing brand managers and some of the most prominent and influential companies in each.
Marketing and Advertising
The marketing and advertising industry is a logical landing point for many brand management professionals. Agencies may manage brands for a variety of clients, allowing brand managers to work with several brands simultaneously or focus exclusively on a niche industry or market. There is no shortage of opportunity for brand managers in the marketing and advertising space. A few leading companies and up-and-comers in this sector include:
“DoStuff is a network of local media properties run by local teams in 20 cities. 7 million people a month across those cities use our local daily emails, apps, websites & social handles to answer the question: ‘What am I going to do tonight?'”
“There’s something about the people who comprise our Allegiant Connections Inc team that sets us apart from other agencies. Our energy, passion for success, and creative instincts attract others who seek thriving careers. We offer many professional paths. If this sounds appealing, we could be the right place to achieve career satisfaction.”
Careers at Allegiant Connections
“Professional development, travel perks, and inspiring connections await career-oriented individuals with a penchant for success.”
Careers at Eminence Management, Inc.
“As branding experts, we uniquely articulate who our clients are and what they do in a way that makes them irresistible to their customers. We find the truth about how our clients enrich the lives of their customers and prospects. We gain deep insight into what customers truly desire and how our clients uniquely fulfill those desires.”
Consumer goods spans everything from beauty supplies to pet-related products, electronics, and more, meaning there is ample opportunity for brand management professionals to land a role supporting a product or service they’re passionate about. A few of the consumer goods companies that employ brand managers include:
“How do we give baby a spot at the table? Answering that led us to design our first ever product—the ZAAZ™ high chair—launched in 2007. We’re a global brand with roots in Amsterdam. The practical side of family life is a constant source of inspiration to us. Raising little ones is immensely rewarding and demanding, often at the same time. And it isn’t all about the children either. Our own adventures in parenthood have shown us that practical and beautiful is the perfect balance when it comes to gear. There’s nothing we appreciate more than clever design—thoughtful solutions—that bring us a sense of joy.”
Careers at Nuna Baby Essentials
“LG Electronics, Inc. is the world’s major force and technology innovator in electronics, information, and communications products. The LG Mobile Unit division is fast becoming an innovation leader in mobile telecommunication devices.”
“Sure, we’ve grown through the years. Today we’re large enough to accomplish big goals, while still knowing the names of everyone’s kids—and dogs. Our supportive, team-based environment encourages everyone to be themselves, and find creative ways to address challenges. Our employees embody our values of natural, sustainable and responsible living. Their everyday decisions affect how we run our business at every level.”
“For more than a century, L’Oréal has devoted itself solely to one business: beauty. It is a business rich in meaning, as it enables all individuals to express their personalities, gain self-confidence and open up to others.”
Brand awareness is imperative in the pharmaceutical industry, and brand managers must ensure that product messaging is appropriately tuned in to the needs of providers, pharmacists, and consumers – three very distinct audiences requiring a vastly different approach to marketing, advertising, and branding. A major industry in the U.S., dozens of pharmaceutical companies are based in the United States, ranging from smaller, single-drug companies to major pharmaceutical players with patents on dozens of drugs. Thus, opportunities for qualified brand managers abound in this space. Here are a few of the most prominent pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.
“At Pfizer, we’re driven to discover the cure—driven to significantly improve the lives of everyone…everywhere. If you’re similarly driven, you’ll find there’s no better place to begin—and continue—your career than at Pfizer.”
SUN Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd.
“We attribute our growth and success to our over 30,000 strong multi-cultural workforce from over 50 different nationalities. Our team has taken Sun Pharma to the heights that it has scaled and are now working to take it further up on its high growth trajectory.”
“Alfasigma USA, Inc. works to create lasting, shared values:
- For people by improving their health and quality of life and finding solutions to treat a population which is becoming increasingly elderly, thanks precisely to scientific progress;
- For the company and its staff by striving to create wealth, nurturing ideas and projects, and capitalizing on the enthusiasm of its employees;
- For society by endeavouring to provide security, working sustainably with a view to the long term, and providing far-reaching solutions for healthcare needs, which are becoming increasingly global;
- For future generations by providing innovation and responding to the needs of a changing society.
“Alfasigma USA, Inc. strives to be a strong, healthy company in a strong, healthy world.”
“Roche is a place where we are learning every day, building our careers and pursuing our passions. We focus on retaining employees through a cycle of regular development, recognition and rewards tied to performance. We want everyone at Roche to reach their potential, further their careers and make their mark. Lifelong learning and development opportunities are part of our strategy and are an integral part of being an employer of choice.”
Food & Beverage
Everyone is familiar with some of the biggest brands in the food & beverage industry – from Pepsi to Coca-Cola, The Kraft Heinz Company, Nestlé, General Mills, and more. Behind that widespread brand recognition are some of the world’s most successful – and effective – brand management professionals. Here’s a look at a few lesser-known food & beverage companies as well as some major players.
“Danone is a global company with an inspiring mission, ‘bringing health through food to as many people as possible.’ With us, you could learn and develop yourself in a collaborative and empowering environment. Fulfilling both personal growth and professional development is part of our DNA. Join us and contribute to a meaningful Project!”
“ICONIC was founded for one simple reason – to create healthy products that taste delicious. After growing weary of beverage options that were touted as healthy but packed full of sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients, our founder Billy decided to take matters into his own hands. In working with a nutritionist, Billy came to develop the recipes for our original line of delicious, clean ingredient protein drinks made with premium New Zealand grass-fed protein. Based out of sunny Santa Monica, California, our team is passionate about helping fuel and empower your everyday ICONIC achievements– whether it’s running a marathon or getting out of the office for a walk around the block.”
“An innovative leader in the organic food industry, we are the world’s leading brand of organic coconut, hemp, chia and red palm superfoods.”
“At Nestlé USA, we provide high-quality products that are essential to living well. As individuals and teams, we embrace leadership, make important contributions, and support each other’s professional development. Join the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, and deliver the satisfying foods that help people around the world through every phase of life.”
“To be the best, we need the best— the best brands, the best processes, and most importantly, the best people. Kraft Heinz is transforming the food industry with bold thinking and unprecedented results. We’re looking for motivated, innovative talent to join our team.”
Careers at The Kraft Heinz Company
Working in the retail industry today doesn’t always mean working in a brick-and-mortar store. E-commerce has taken over, and in some cases, brand managers must juggle both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce brand images for a single product line. For the multi-talented, highly skilled brand manager, this is a welcome challenge. Here’s a look at a few companies in the retail space that rely on brand managers to develop, solidify, and market their brands.
“Headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida (yes, we wear sandals all the time), Chewy.com’s dedicated staff–furry and non-furry alike–are committed to providing the kind of service that makes you go ‘wow.’ Our warehouses all over the country can ship the freshest, highest quality products–and fast. And our amazing gals and guys in customer service are here day and night to help. Bottom line is, we’re here to make pet happiness happen.”
“Whether you’re in sales or stock, alterations or management, or are part of the behind-the-scenes glue that holds it all together, we’re all obsessed with serving our customers and oh, of course, fashion. Exciting and fast-paced, a career at Nordstrom means staying ahead of the trends, moving quickly and being part of something we think is pretty awesome.”
“Kroger Family of Companies employs nearly 443,000 associates who serve customers in 2,796 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Kroger and its subsidiaries operate an expanding ClickList offering – a personalized, order online, pick up at the store service – in addition to 2,253 pharmacies, 787 convenience stores, 324 fine jewelry stores, 1,439 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food production plants in the United States. Kroger is recognized as one of America’s most generous companies for its support of more than 100 Feeding America food bank partners, breast cancer research and awareness, the military and their families, and more than 145,000 community organizations including schools. Careers with The Kroger Co. and our family of companies offer competitive wages, flexible schedules, benefits and room for advancement.”
“We’ve taken iconic American style from the streets of San Francisco around the world. Where will we go next? That’s up to you. We’re looking for true individuals. People with the courage to take chances. Who understand that making a difference takes passion, patience, and persistence.”
Salary Information for Successful Brand Managers
According to LinkedIn’s data, the median salary for Senior Brand Managers is $140,000 annually, ranging from $83,000 to $189,000. Among LinkedIn members with the title of Brand Manager, the median salary is $88,000 annually, ranging from $48,000 to $148,000.
Glassdoor’s data shows an average salary of $96,169/year for brand managers, and $114,552 for senior brand managers. Given that the logical trajectory for brand management professionals is to start with a role as an assistant, associate, or junior brand manager, advancing to brand manager and ultimately to senior brand manager, this data indicates that the field is lucrative for those who continue to advance. According to Glassdoor, assistant brand managers earn an average of $79,480/year, while associate brand managers earn an average salary of $90,039/year.
Glassdoor’s data is based on self-reports from users who submit their job title and salary information to the platform. This breadth of data makes it possible to get a feel for salary differences between companies and gauge earning potential at specific corporations. Brand manager salary data is based on 5,239 salary reports for all specific titles combined. A few examples of reported salaries for brand managers include:
- Procter & Gamble: $137,477 (based on 101 salary reports)
- Kraft Heinz Company: $127,844 (based on 51 salary reports)
- Ralph Lauren: $64,561 (based on 32 salary reports)
- RB: $126,996 (based on 27 salary reports)
- The Richards Group (based on 27 salary reports)
- Colgate-Palmolive: $121,273 (based on 21 salary reports)
- Unilever: $116,687 (based on 21 salary reports)
- Starbucks: $120,378 (based on 15 salary reports)
- PepsiCo: $119,840 (based on 12 salary reports)
- Dell: $105,011 (based on 11 salary reports)
Additionally, Glassdoor provides a range of salaries reported by brand managers who worked for the companies above and other companies listed, as you can see in the screenshot below:
You can also sort by industry to get a feel for earnings potential in various industries. Here are a few examples of average salaries in certain industries for professionals with the title of brand manager:
- Biotech and Pharmaceuticals: $116,585/yr
- Marketing and Advertising: $73,241/yr
- Retail: $65,160/yr
- Beauty and Fitness: $63,487/yr
- Media and Publishing: $64,752/yr
- Travel and Tourism: $75,918/yr
- Healthcare and Hospitals: $89,627/yr
- Insurance: $96,232/yr
- Information Technology: $94,994/yr
- Telecommunications: $85,695/yr
As you can see, average salaries are significantly higher in some industries, such as biotech and pharmaceuticals, health care and hospitals, information technology, and insurance. While some brand management professionals may aim to gain industry experience in a higher-paying industry for earnings potential, others may prefer to work in industries that they’re passionate about (such as beauty and fitness or media and publishing) despite the possibility of lower earnings potential.
Another factor to consider is company size. Glassdoor’s data indicates that average salaries tend to be correlated with the size of the company:
- 5,001+ employees: $92,239/yr
- 1,001 to 5,000 employees: $85,837/yr
- 501 to 1,000 employees: $79,067/yr
- 201 to 500 employees: $76,078/yr
- 51 to 200 employees: $69,211/yr
- 0 to 50 employees: $65,345/yr
Finally, as in most professions, the earnings potential for brand managers rises with the number of years of experience they have:
- 0 to 1 years: $52,581/yr
- 1 to 3 years: $56,977/yr
- 4 to 6 years: $63,670/yr
- 7 to 9 years: $68,075/yr
- 10 to 14 years: $70,980/yr
- 15+ years: $74,108/yr
Note that these figures represent average base salaries only; in many cases, brand managers have opportunities to earn bonus compensation, meaning the true earnings potential may be higher annually based on available compensation packages.
Indeed collects similar data. This includes the number of reported salaries that factor into the averages, a graphic that illustrates the salary distribution, and information on the most-reported salary figures:
Like Glassdoor, Indeed offers a breakdown of reported salaries for specific companies, including the average salary and the number of salary reports per company:
Overall, Indeed’s data indicates that the average salary for brand managers is $72,766 per year. a difference of nearly $25,000 from Glassdoor’s overall average for the same role ($96,169, or $23,403 more annually compared to Indeed’s average). However, the salary averages for companies in industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotech, food and beverages, and travel and hospitality are similar between the two sites. These differences can be attributed to the fact that salaries are being reported by employees with varying years of experience and from varied backgrounds, as well as tenure with their respective companies.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a junior brand manager is $44,783 per year, while senior brand managers earn an average of $104,433 per year. Also useful is a breakdown of average brand manager salaries by location:
PayScale is another helpful source of salary data for brand managers. The overall average salary for brand managers is even lower according to PayScale’s data: $68,000 per year (median: $70,659). However, PayScale points out that total compensation for brand managers can range from $40,000 to $121,000 per year when bonuses (reaching up to $18,000) and profit sharing (up to $11,000) are accounted for. “Compensation for this group is mainly affected by the specific employer, but the particular city and years of experience are influential factors as well. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Brand Managers. Women account for the majority of Brand Managers who responded to the questionnaire — 67 percent to be exact.”
PayScale also provides a helpful graphic illustrating the potential career paths for brand managers:
Additionally, PayScale offers some insight into the specific skills and competencies that are likely to impact a brand manager’s pay:
Brand managers have a range of skill sets that they put to use regularly on the job. Certain skills correlate to above average pay (an increase between 6% and 12%), including:
- Strategic Marketing
- Marketing Management
- Product Marketing
- Product Development
Other skills are linked to lower pay, including:
- Graphic Design
Like Indeed, PayScale’s data indicates that earnings potential increases with the amount of experience a brand manager has in the field, leveling off in the late career stage (about 10+ years of experience):
Specifically, average total compensation (including bonuses and other compensation) by experience level includes:
- Less than 5 years: $57,000 (based on 619 salary reports)
- 5 to 10 years: $77,000 (based on 485 salary reports)
- 10 to 20 years: $88,000 (based on 276 salary reports)
- 20+ years: $88,000 (based on 70 salary reports)
Finally, PayScale indicates differences in average pay for brand managers based on location:
Brand managers working in the San Francisco area can expect to earn as much as 42% higher than the national average. Other lucrative locations for brand mangers include:
- Seattle: 36% above average
- Chicago: 17% above average
- Cincinnati: 16% above average
- Atlanta: 15% above average
- Boston: 11% above average
In some locations, brand managers tend to earn less than the national average, including:
- Houston: 19% below average
- Dallas: 20% below average
- San Diego: 20% below average
- Denver: 21% below average
These differences can be attributed in part to the heavier saturation of corporate offices for major brands in some cities, such as San Francisco and Atlanta, which drives up competition for the top brand management talent, thus increasing average salaries. The inverse is true for cities fewer corporations call home. Another factor is cost of living; salaries as a whole tend to be higher in areas where the cost of living is higher.
Who Are Today’s Top Brand Managers
Who are today’s top brand managers? We pulled a few profiles from LinkedIn to showcase some of today’s leading brand management talent and gain some insights into the skills, background, and experience required to land a coveted brand management role at one of today’s most prominent enterprises and up-and-coming brands.
Brand Manager, Fox Networks Group
Christine Carbia-Androitis has more than 20 years of experience in advertising sales, including 12 years at NBC, four years at USA/Sci-fi Networks, and 12 years at 21st Century Fox. Her specialties include Network, Cable, Sports and Digital Media, New Business Development for Traditional and Digital Media Sales, Launching & Branding Start Up Networks, Leadership, and more. She earned a B.A. in Communications from The City University of New York – Queen’s College.
- Digital Media
- Media Planning
- Brand Development
Brand Manager at Bethesda Softworks
Carlos Guice Jr. has global experience building and managing high-profile brands within the interactive entertainment space. In the past five years, he has been engaged in product development and major marketing efforts for award-winning franchises created and published by Bethesda Softworks. Carlos earned a B.S. in Marketing from University of Maryland University College, then went on to earn his M.S. in Marketing Management from the same institution. He first joined Bethesda Softworks in 2011, and since that time has held several roles including Quality Assurance, Marketing & PR Coordinator, and Associate Brand Manager before taking on his current role as Brand Manager in April 2017.
- Video Games
- Social Media Marketing
Sr. Brand Manager at rue21
Erin Sauer has 10+ years of experience in retail marketing and communications management, including planning and implementing brand strategies and campaigns. Her specialties include retail marketing, account management, visual merchandising, PR, event planning, advertising design, and more. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
- Visual Merchandising
- Advertising Design
- Retail Marketing
Brand Manager at PCB (Premium Consumer Brands)
After his six-year professional soccer career, Max Cream built a reputation for energy and performance during his three years at the award-winning tech marketing agency, Astute. In 2012, he returned to his hometown of Los Angeles and worked for companies such as Zillow, Main Street Hub, and Perkville in account executive roles before landing his current position as Brand Manager at Premium Consumer Brands.
- Business Development
- New Business Development
Brand Manager, RB
Cheryl M. Brown has more than five years of experience in brand management and trade marketing for leading CPG company RB. She draws from more than six years of experience in management consulting. She previously worked for RB in 2013 as an associate brand manager and brand manager, followed by roles at Allied Irish Banks and CEB in Ireland before returning to RB as a brand manager for Lysol in 2017. She earned an A.B. in French and Italian from Princeton University and obtained her MBA in Marketing and Management from The Wharton School.
- Brand Management
- Competitive Analysis
- Trade Marketing
Associate Brand Manager at Johnson & Johnson
Charley Costa is an experienced brand manager with experience in both B2B and CPG industries. His interests include marketing strategy, consumer experience, and public speaking, among others. After working as an Account Manager/Recruiter for Aerotek, Charley’s first experience with Johnson & Johnson was as an MBA Summer Associate in 2015. From mid-2015 to 2016, he served as a Market Research Intern for SFW Agency, returning to Johnson & Johnson in August 2016 as Associate Brand Manager. He earned a BSBA in Business Administration, Business Marketing /Sales from Elon University followed by an MBA in Marketing from the Wake Forest University School of Business.
- Public Speaking
Brand Manager – ForceField
Will Hardison works as a brand manager for ForceField, where he manages a brand in the footwear industry. He also runs a full-service marketing agency, FanBase, LLC, in the evenings and on weekends. He previously worked as a marketing consultant through his company, MEDIAPLUG, from 2008 to 2012. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing, followed by an MBA, both from East Carolina University.
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Sr. Brand Manager, Novo Nordisk
Lauren Taylor earned a B.A. in Communications/Broadcast Journalism from Villanova University. She’s held a variety of account executive and marketing roles for companies in the health and pharmaceutical space, including Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Roska Healthcare, and Evoke Health, prior to joining Novo Nordisk as a Manager Digital Strategy in 2015. In 2017, she took on her current role as Senior Brand Manager with Novo Nordisk.
- Integrated Marketing
- Digital Marketing
Brand Manager at CroppMetcalfe
Eric Tessel is an experienced marketing and communications professional who has extensive experience in traditional and digital advertising, strategic communication, and event development and execution. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from George Mason University and first worked as a Marketing Coordinator for CroppMetcalfe from 2004 to 2007. He then worked as a Project Manager for American Eagle before returning to CroppMetcalfe in October 2009 in his current role as Brand Manager.
- Online Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
Brand Manager at Mars
Farrell Rodd earned a M.A. in English and Art History from the University of St. Andrews, followed by an MBA in Marketing/Marketing Management from The University of Chicago – Booth School of Business in 2014. Farrell worked as an Associate Brand Manager, Chunky Soup for Campbell Soup Company from 2014 to 2016, then served as Senior Marketing Manager for AARP in 2016 before joining Mars as an Associate Brand Manager later that year. In 2017, she took on her current role as Brand Manager at Mars.
- Integrated Marketing
- Interactive Marketing
Traits and Characteristics of the Most Successful Brand Managers
Brand managers tend to be jack-of-all-trades types, with skills in a variety of functional areas such as marketing and advertising, branding, public relations, and design. Because they’re required to interface with a variety of other roles within the organization, they must be team players and powerful motivators in order to gain buy-in for their branding initiatives and campaigns. These are just a few of the most important traits and characteristics that make up a successful brand manager.
An eye for detail is crucial for brand managers, as are exceptional communications skills and presentation skills. Successful brand managers are typically go-getters with an outgoing, likeable personality who can easily engage with people of varied backgrounds and interests. They must be simultaneously tech-savvy and creative, blending the ability to decipher large volumes of data and the talent for turning raw numbers into actionable ideas – and then executing them.
Above all, the most effective brand managers are enthusiastic ambassadors for the brands they represent, and they embrace ownership of their brand. They have an innate ability to get inside the heads of their target audiences: their product’s or service’s consumers. They’re the type of people who can pay attention to a multitude of inputs and constantly filter information to determine not only what impacts their brand, but how, why, and what to do about it.
Great brand managers are strategic thinkers. They’re always on the lookout for opportunities to enter new markets, fine-tune their brand messaging, develop powerful new stories, and identify market gaps that could mean hidden opportunities for new and lucrative products or services.
While successful brand managers hail from a variety of backgrounds, most share a few core traits that make them especially well-suited for this challenging role. Companies today are looking for the multi-faceted, multi-talented, ambitious professional who’s ready to take the bull by the horns and mold consumer perception of the brand as though it were putty in their hands.
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