This is the crux of a LOT of misunderstandings, both within and without the marketing community. The core of it comes from how businesses approach the product. Is the physical product the core of the company, or is the brand (name, reputation etc.) the value of the company? This lens drives some companies to see marketing as a leadership function (brand at core) and others as a support function (product at core). Those who see marketing as a leadership function traditionally call themselves brand managers vs marketers although their functional specialism is marketing, their role is much more. Both are relevant positions and frankly the need changes depending on the type of business and the development curve of the business (see later).
So what does brand management do? Well, they will direct or manage all aspects of the brand development and execution. They own the profit and loss, are responsible for product development decisions, they coordinate ALL the functions from sales to logistics, consumer insights to public relations, or communications to research & development. They are the strategic head that sees the big picture, sets a vision and then directs the team towards realising the vision. They are also pure marketers but although it is a core part of the job, it is only part of it. They are also coaches & trainers as the true essence of this can only be learnt whilst working and doing, I never met a marketing graduate who didn’t need significant training to become a brand manager.
Why have this strategic lead in marketing and not, for example sales or finance? Well, the answer is because in many businesses, the key to success is by finding a proposition which consumers are willing to pay for and the skill set here is in defining that proposition, communicating and then developing it and extending it to grow the business. The functional expertise needed therefore is marketing, with a strategic eye on the total business, which is why general management and leadership skills are also essential. So brand managers combine these skill sets, whereas marketers specialise in one.
Can marketing be purely functional then? Yes. If you have a business developed through a strong product, which speaks for itself, then the marketing function can operate to some extent without the benefit of this ‘strategic’ eye. The marketing function becomes one of ‘promoting’ the product with the guidance of sales and / or finance. I would argue that at some point, they will however, need more, or face strong competitive threat and/or commoditisation.
As a medium sized or national brand, marketing may not be your ‘core’ function with an all-controlling hand at the tiller, but you will find that this skill set can help find & realise growth opportunities that you may not otherwise. If you don’t have space or budget for this skill set on your team, access it via consultants or agencies, but make sure that enable them to influence the actions of core functions (product development, sales etc.) or risk limiting their capability to really step-change the growth and brand strength.
Originally posted (here) by @toniaOC