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Career Perspectives: Brand Management

RC: Ali Fakhari
Company: Harrah’s Entertainment
Website: www.harrahs.com
Industry: Gaming and Entertainment
Position/Function: Brand Management and Marketing
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Responsibilities: Managing a newly acquired brand

So what do Brand Managers do?
Brand Managers are responsible for making a company’s most treasured asset, its reputation, even more valuable and pervasive. They do this by matching the overall business goals of the organization with the goals of a particular brand, i.e. what is the brand’s purpose and what does it stand for. The key to successful brand management lies in identifying the strategies to keep the brand as vital as possible to maintain a strong image with your customers. A successful brand manager enhances this image by carefully understanding and promoting the brand and choosing partners who can do the same. Without these managers you run the risk of diluting the brand and destroying your reputation.

What is a typical day for a Brand Manager or someone interested in Marketing?
I would typically arrive in the office by 8:30am and meet with the marketing team for about 30 minutes on the current brand promotions or strategies taking place at our different properties. I would spend the majority of the morning calling our major licensing partners for the brand to either discuss the status of ongoing product roll-outs and campaigns, or the progress on contract negotiations. I would spend the majority of the afternoon developing new brand extensions and performing diligence on these new opportunities to scout out the best future brand partners. I may leave the office around 4:00pm to spend a couple hours at the property to track the performance of brand products or promotions and their perception by our target demographics.

What type of person would love this job?
Brand management and marketing are very similar in that they require people who are passionate about a product and can bolster their enthusiasm with sound analysis. I recommend this function to anyone who likes the challenge of coming up with creative solutions for problems and who has great interpersonal skills. Part of what makes a great brand manager and marketer is an ability to quickly and intuitively develop relationships with the right partners while still being able to run the numbers in order to win in a negotiation with that same partner.

What did you like the most about this job?
Managing a brand is a lot like taking care of a kid. You have to make sure it is well taken care of and watched at all times, even if it is not by you. You do this by constantly looking for new ways to improve the brand image and by developing trusting relationships with strategic partners who are indirectly responsible for the brand and can do the same. I most enjoyed developing innovative ways to promote the brand by choosing profitable products and partners and turning these ideas into lasting and successful business relationships.

What did you like the least about this job?
Having come from a consulting background, I at first found it difficult to overcome the inertia that naturally exists within a corporate setting. Owning a brand means being responsible for all possible repercussions if something were to go wrong. As a result, your legal team is extra sensitive to every nuance of a licensing contract or brand engagement to the point of nearly stifling the relationship. The toughest part of your role is being able to satisfy all constituents’ needs in a timely manner that allows you to take advantage of opportunities quickly. In the world of entertainment and marketing, being first to market really is a huge competitive advantage.

Career Perspectives will be a weekly re-occurring column that highlights the prior professional experiences of fellow HBSers. All profiles were created and collected by Harbus Associate Editor Bianca Tabourn (NB). See next week’s issue of the Harbus for a new Career Perspective.

December 5, 2005
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