Explaining Brand Strategy and Advertising Departments

In my last article, I described the overall structure of a traditional Marcom department in a medium to large scale enterprise. In this article, I will describe a typical brand strategy and advertising department. 

The first question that comes to mind is what is a brand strategy? Why is it important? Don’t we just place the logo on the collateral and own the brand?

A brand strategy is formulated to build brand equity. To understand the importance of brand, we can take a look at a well-known brand and how its reputation translates to higher profitability.

The brand in question is ‘Starbucks’ that markets itself as a high-end product and services company. Starbucks is able to sell coffee and coffeehouse experience at a higher price compared to its competitors. Starbucks enjoys this competitive advantage due to the customer loyalty built on the strength of its brand.

While brand equity is sometimes intangible and difficult to quantify, a strong cohesive brand oftentimes translates to the brand’s profitability for a sustained period. 

Going back to our fictional marketing department, one of the categories in our structure is Brand Strategy and Advertising.  It’s important to note that it encompasses two parts—Brand Strategy and Advertising. In other words, if we were addressing roles, they are ‘Brand Strategy Manager’ and ‘Advertising Manager’. 

Brand Strategy Manager

In a large scale enterprise, professionals must plan and coordinate their products to drive sales and ensure survival in the business world. A company sometimes produces different products, each requires separate branding strategies and approaches to market effectively. For example, Pepsi brand encompasses multiple products including fruit juice, sports drinks, water and the original Pepsi cola.

A brand strategy manager oversees market research, development, and the various marketing strategies of a brand.  Brand managers are responsible for market research for a brand. This includes polling demographics, discovering demand for a product, and asking people what makes a particular product stand out. Brand strategy managers develop strategies to help enhance the value of the brand.

The product sales and marketing strategies are matched to determine if there is a positive correlation between the two. A brand strategy manager would have to work closely with product or service line manager to obtain information on product and sales.

Advertising Manager

Advertising managers manage and launch successful advertising campaigns, develop a budget and manage their employees. Advertising managers lead teams of sales and creative staff throughout the advertising process. They are typically liaisons with clients in regards to advertising strategies. In addition to this, they are also responsible for conducting market research to gauge the effectiveness of the strategies.

Advertising managers are typically involved during the course of the creative process, providing feedback and direction about the ongoing project. They work with client ensuring the cost of creatives and project deliverables are within their client approved budget.

An advertising manager typically has a broad set of skills. This enables him or her to manage and lead a multi-specialty team and manage client budget and project management needs.  The team could comprise of account executives, writers, graphic designers, art directors and traffic managers.

When thinking of advertising managers, the best mainstream media example that I can think of is the character Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) in the Mad Men series. For factual accuracy, I would like to state that he was a creative director of an agency and later became a partner. However, the portrayal of his role and responsibilities in terms of client and team interaction is very close to the advertising manager’s role.

Having discussed both roles and what responsibilities each requires, I would like to mention that lot of Marcom departments like to combine the two roles into one. That role is ‘Brand Strategy and AdvertisingManager’. This helps companies streamline their department structure, especially if they do not have an ongoing need for two full-time professionals. In such scenarios, some of the overflow work is outsourced to external agencies which could specialize in market research or advertising.

Hope you enjoyed this article on Brand Strategy and Advertising. My next article I will discuss Digital Marketing Strategy and Production.


Rinki Mukherjee

Rinki is a marketing professional with over 10 years of corporate and freelance experience.

She currently works on marketing contracts with Houston area businesses. She has served in non-profit, healthcare, oil and gas, real estate, technology, education and consumer goods industries.

She recently earned her MBA from the University of Houston, BAUER School of Business with a focus in Marketing Analysis and Business Consulting. She also has her Associates in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Houston and Masters in English Literature from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India.

She currently serves on two non-profit boards. She is Membership Officer with Prospanica-Houston chapter and Director of Special Events-Marketing with American Marketing Association-Houston chapter. Though Rinki is a now a committed Houstonian, she was born and raised in India. 

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