Food Job: Brand Manager

What do you think of when you think of Mario Batali? Pony tail, shorts, plump knees, orange crocs? What do you think of when you think of Donald Trump or Lady Gaga? Public faces (and private fortunes!) are created by brand managers.

In a way, we too create ourselves. We develop our own unique style that encompasses how we speak, how we wear our hair, how we dress, how we walk, what we read, which TV programs we watch and how we communicate our thoughts. We may behave differently in the company of close friends than when we are going for a job interview, but, essentially we are who we are.

The difference between us and “them” is “they” are supposed to stay in character all the time. We show a different face to our beloved than to the repair man, who failed to show up — again!

Brand Manager Job Description

A brand manager is a creative professional, who develops a public image for a person, product or an entire company with the objective of  increasing his, her or its revenues.

For example, we think of Ben & Jerry as great philanthropists who produce super ice cream. We think of Starbucks as earth-friendly folk who generously provide health benefits for their employees and make high priced coffee that is sold in a paper cup.

These images are creations of marketing experts who have specialized knowledge within specific fields.

A culinary brand manager understands the demographic profile of food television viewers, analyzes food trends, researches packaging innovations and coordinates the strategies of advertisers and marketers. A brand manager can manage to create a new TV program for a “failed” or obscure chef or a movie deal for a blogger.

The brand manager invents novel or traditional products to be endorsed or manufactured by a food celebrity and distributed to consumers, who are eager to buy.

The goal of a culinary personality brand manager is to create a unique, instantly recognizable, endearing personality, who is inclined to repeat words like “Bam!,” “EVOO!” and “Y’ALL” to further the ultimate objective which is to make heaps of money for the “brand,” whether or not the brand is Emeril (Lagasse), Rachael (Ray) or y’all.

Characteristics of Brand Managers

Common traits of brand managers include: being results oriented and highly creative innovators, who possess strong interpersonal, communication and analytical skills, and entrepreneurial leanings. (Source: About.com)

Average salary is $76,100 though CNN places this figure at $90.000 or even higher for a senior executive.

Education/Experience Requirements: A Bachelor’s degree and 4 years of field experience. (For culinary brand managers, it helps to have culinary training but it isn’t crucial.)

Sample interview questions for an applicant to this field include:

1.    Describe a time when you went above and beyond for a customer.

2.    What would you do to maximize the brand image in this region?

3.    A new competitor is entering the market. How do you protect your market share?

4.    Tell me about a brand that does not compete in your current category that is not doing performing well and why?

5.    Walk me through your resume – tell me why you’re qualified.

6.    Give me an example in which you have led a team successfully to accomplish a task

7.    Why should we hire you as opposed to someone else?

8.    In trying to market a product, how do you differentiate one brand of product to another.

9.    Do you have a culinary degree? (Source HR Management)

Getting Started

Check out The Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin as well as the Top 10 Brand Management Blogs for getting started and gaining insights.