Product Manager vs Brand Manager

product manager vs brand manager

We’re continuing our mini-series comparing the roles between Product Managers and ancillary positions within the tech industry. Today, we’re going to delve into Product Manager vs Brand Manager. We’ll go over the responsibilities for controlling the image of a product held by Brand Managers and how they can help you transition into Product Management.

While Product Managers work on creating a product, Brand Managers work on creating a company brand based around a product.

Product Manager vs Brand Manager Definitions

Product Manager

Product managers concentrate on a product’s design and features. Their work is logistical, and they work closely with executives, developers, sales, marketing, and Brand Managers. They want to develop, update, and keep their product running smoothly, focusing on how consumers communicate with it and how it integrates into the market. 

A product is a good or service that is being offered to the customers and is what is being developed by the Product Manager.

Brand Manager

A brand is an abstract concept that refers to how a company is viewed by the public, including both factual and opinionated details. For example, when thinking about Apple, you know that they sell phones, but you might also think that they’re innovative. Brands are not only companies and products, but people as well. Celebrities and athletes often have their own brands and a specific way in which they want to be perceived.

Brand managers use customer and pattern analysis to develop tactics that can affect how consumers view the brand. This can include supervising ads, architecture, or events. Brand managers are in charge of ensuring that branding is consistent with all ads and marketing strategies.

As newer generations of consumers increasingly make purchasing decisions based on a company’s brand and value, the need for competent Brand Managers is at an ever-present high.

Product Manager vs Brand Manager Responsibilities

While a Product Manager’s position is tied to a product’s design and features and how it will fit in a marketplace, Brand Managers focus on a different value proposition. Brand managers are responsible for how the public views a product, developing strategies that will garner emotional responses leading to brand loyalty. Here are the main responsibility differences between a Product Manager vs Brand Manager:

Product Manager

As stated in our other articles from this series, a Product Manager owns the product and is responsible for the success and failure of the product. They’re also responsible for the vision and strategy of the product. They have to stay on top of developments and make sure the product is covering all bases. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Setting the strategy and vision of the product to align with business and user goals
  • Building a product roadmap
  • Work with engineers, designers, and stakeholders
  • Requirements evaluation
  • Stakeholder management

Brand Manager

The job of a Brand Manager is to strategically develop a brand for a company or product. They have to influence the public’s perception of the company/product.

Some of their main responsibilities include:

  • Researching consumers and where the brand is positioned in the marketplace
  • Create a research-based brand strategy
  • Developing advertising and marketing strategies and campaigns
  • Managing promotional activities
  • Analyzing competitive product and brands

Core Differences

The core difference between how Product Managers and Brand Managers relate to a product is how they communicate value to customers. Product Managers will typically provide an inferred extrinsic value for using a product, while a Brand Manager will focus on intrinsic value for selecting one product over another. 

You can see an easy example in Disney’s branding, where even ex-chief executive Bob Iger relates himself to a Brand Manager. Brand Managers will create a sense of community buy-in, where a Product Manager will detail how a product’s features will improve your life. Their work is always strategic, requiring high-level curation of their company’s image and the realistic measures needed to preserve that image.

Overlap

Product Managers and Brand Manager roles are inextricably linked.

The brand is supported by the Product Manager, while Brand Managers push to introduce new goods into the marketplace. Although product managers are tasked with maintaining a single product, brand managers are typically in charge of building the foundation of a brand where new products can thrive.

Eliciting emotions through branding is the duty of a Brand Manager. However, for a product to be successful, Product Managers need to maintain awareness of how their product will impact the brand.

Skills

The transferable skills that a Brand Manager directly relates to those needed by a Product Manager are numerous. Whether you’re bringing your expertise in trend awareness, customer wish fulfillment, creativity and the ability to develop unique and creative concepts, or team communication skills, these are all critical to being successful as a Product Manager.

Product Manager Vs Brand Manager

A person’s background can have a significant impact when transitioning between positions. Fortunately, Brand Managers have several advantages over other applicants looking to make a move into Product Management. You can even use your branding skills throughout the interview process. 

Brand Managers are accustomed to relying on psychological and behavioral research, a critical skill when developing products for customers. However, most Brand Managers will lack the technological knowledge that will enable them to comprehend engineers’ work in-depth. However, Brand Managers can easily learn how to overcome this and other stumbling blocks. The reality is that Product Management can be seen as a natural progression for Brand Managers.

If you’re on the job hunt for a PM position, check out our exclusive Product Management Job Board. Or if you need a hand preparing yourself before you apply, schedule a free coaching call with our in-house team. We’d love to help you take your first steps into a new career.

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