In 1931, Neil McElroy distributed an internal memo at Procter & Gamble that launched the idea of brand managers. He proposed that each brand should operate as its own business - with its own budget, target market, research and planning. In his vision, a brand manager was like a small business owner who keeps an eye on the big picture while managing all aspects of the product.

What Does A Brand Manager Do?

Brand managers work with other company experts and outside agencies on a variety of creative and analytical responsibilities. Brand management jobs are highly coveted positions for people with a mix of creative and analytical skills and a good deal of entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to developing and protecting a brand's image, brand managers identify marketing opportunities and find ways to champion a brand's unique benefits.

In a given day, a brand manager may brainstorm new advertising campaign ideas with the ad agency, guide a market research team, meet with legal representatives about the fine print for an upcoming promotion, and analyze last quarter's sales volumes and market share to project future profits.

Where Are The Jobs?

Traditionally, consumer products companies with a wide range of brand names recruit brand managers to shepherd every aspect of a brand or brand family. Brand managers may be supported by a team, including an assistant brand manager as well as more junior marketing assistants, analysts or associates.

Is Brand Management For You?

If you want to become a brand manager, you need to be self-motivated. With such a diverse set of responsibilities, successful brand managers also need energy and drive. They usually have natural leadership skills and the ability to handle constant change. Communication is also key since they work with so many different functional areas internally and externally.

While undergraduates may find internships or entry-level positions, most companies prefer that brand managers have a master's degree in business.

Finding A Brand Management Position

One way to boost your appeal as a brand manager candidate is to develop specialized experience in science or industry. Since you'll be working across many functional areas, understanding the jargon and challenges of functional areas like product design, engineering and manufacturing can help you develop better relationships while also strategizing and selling your product in the marketplace.

Kelly Burkart is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer.