A brand is experienced at each customer touch point. So, the brand's perceptions are created, reinforced or diminished at each customer touch point. And given that a brand must consistently deliver on its promise wherever it is encountered, this argues for an extremely large span of influence for the brand manager.
As an example, consider banking. The brand touch points include, but are not limited to, ATMs, the branch locations including drive-through banking, online banking, online customer support and telephone customer support. But it also extends to interactions with loan officers, wealth managers and other specialists. And, of course, there are the typical marketing communication touch points, which may be executed differently for each product and service.
How then does the brand manager make sure the loan officer or wealth manager is operating "on brand"? What if a particular branch location is performing its own outreach to its customers? Is that outreach "on brand"? Is the design of the ATM experience "on brand"? What if different types of ATM machines are used at different locations? Does this lack of consistency hurt the brand?
While brand managers can influence brand identity accuracy and consistency through brand identity guidelines, digital asset management systems and cross-functional brand identity management councils, it is less easy to influence all customer-facing or customer-impacting processes or systems. Some are impacted by IT professionals and purchasing agents, both of whom are typically far removed from the end consumer.
This is where influence on organization culture and employee training can help. If brand positioning and strategies are communicated to all employees through new employee and new manager training, it helps. It also helps to establish ongoing employee updates about the brand. And it also helps to build brand metrics into common measures and balanced scorecards. Alignment of personal objectives to brand objectives may be necessary for certain key employees. Organization-wide recognition and reward systems for brand reinforcing behaviors can also help.
This wide span of influence implies that a brand manager should possess the following qualities to be highly successful:
- High emotional intelligence
- Good listening skills
- Strong verbal and written communication and persuasion skills
- The ability to subtly influence others
- Friendly assertiveness
- A good understanding of other business functions including organization design, finance and general management
- Systems design thinking
Remember, as a brand manager, you are more than a brand identity expert or a marketing communications specialist. You are the general manager of a brand, requiring you to think and act very broadly - like a general manager.