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“It’s embarrassing how our brand team is representing the company with our vendors and partners. They just can’t seem to do anything the way it should be done … and I feel like it’s on me to fix it.”
Eric (not his real name), the CMO of a global consumer products company and a brilliant marketing strategist, had called me, hoping I could help him get his brand team performing at a higher level.
His story is one I’ve come across many times among senior marketing executives — they’re frustrated with the lack of consistency among their brand management teams and keep feeling like they have no choice but to dive into the weeds to “fix things.”
They want to focus on leading the growth of the brand, build a legacy, and leave the brand better than they found it. Instead, they’re caught up in putting out fires and micromanaging their teams — rewriting strategies and briefs, changing feedback to agencies, commenting on packaging, and doing it all in between the higher-level demands of their senior roles in the business.
They end up running from meeting to meeting — from agency projects to sales meetings and line reviews, to operations and supply chain issues, to financial and board meetings — trying to squeeze in their real work whenever they can grab a moment. And because that real work requires chunks of time to think and strategize, it never gets done to the level they want.
Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Read on to find out…
3 Issues With Brand Team Performance and Development
There are three common reasons that lead to this inconsistency among brand teams and all the associated ensuing frustration … not just for senior leaders, but for the brand managers and their associates as well.
- Brand managers’ knowledge and skills vary greatly. Brand management requires a very specific skill set, and many brand teams aren’t properly trained either in school or in previous marketing roles.
- Compounding problem #1, there’s a lack of training options specific to brand management. While general marketing and digital trainings abound, very little of it is tailored to what brand managers in consumer products companies really need to know and use on a daily basis.
- Many organizations lack the capacity to develop training in house. Marketing leadership is swamped with meetings and immediate problems, so they don’t have time to develop, let alone deliver, the training content their teams need. Meanwhile, directors’ and brand managers’ knowledge and ability to coach and develop their direct reports is inconsistent, and not usually supported by the company in a systematic way.
This vicious cycle frustrates and demoralizes the team from top to bottom, yet no one has a solution. Ultimately this leads to burnout … and the high turnover that’s so common among brand teams. When people feel like their work isn’t contributing and they lack support to improve, they give up and move on, which further exacerbates the inconsistency problem.
Here are some interesting facts we found in a recent research survey that we conducted:
- A whopping 81% of brand directors and marketing VPs said their ABMs and brand managers do not get adequate training in school or in their new marketing roles (61% of ABMs and brand managers also agree).
- 56% of ABMs and brand managers say that their manager’s ability to train them is inconsistent.
- 56% of brand directors and marketing VPs say their ABMs’ and brand managers’ work is not up to standard leading to rework and micromanagement.
This is a shame, because brand professionals want to do well, and more often than not, they have the talent. Senior leaders also want to help their team members grow. Everyone just needs a system that sets them up for success.
Break Your Brand Team Out of the Burnout Cycle
So what if you could give them such a system and break out of this cycle?
I want to help you do just that. I’ve seen first hand what works and the primary concepts that the best companies use. I’ve put my 20 years of marketing experience across dozens of consumer goods categories into a free guide to help you onto a new path to a high-performing brand team.
Here’s what you’ll find out in the guide:
- The real reason brand management is so difficult to master and why there’s so much variation among practitioners
- The 4 master keys to high-performance brand management and how to ensure your team develops them
- How to break free from the micromanaging grind and inspire and empower your brand team to consistently deliver great work
This isn’t just theory — I’ll show you exactly how this can apply in the real world by sharing how Eric (the CMO mentioned above) was able to transform his brand team into a self-responsible, high-performing team that others, including key stakeholders, began to notice.
Enter your name and email below to get your free instant download.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow Kevin on LinkedIn.