When is a Brand Manager Not a Brand Manager?

This guest post is written by Ken Valledy, CEO of Tech2brand. Up until December 2013, Ken worked for Anheuser-Busch Inbev, where he held numerous senior Marketing positions including UK Brand Director for Beck’s Beer and Consumer Connections (Digital) Director for Western Europe. This article was first featured on Tech2Brand.


Assistant Brand Manager, Brand Manager, Senior Brand Manager, Marketing Manager, Brand Director, Marketing Director – lots of titles, but who really holds the keys to the Marketing purse when it comes to new start-up tech innovation?

That is the question I have been asked quite a few times recently. Obviously, there isn’t one answer that fits all companies, but I will attempt to provide my angle on this question.

The background

Many many years ago, I was a Brand Manager for CastlemaineXXXX – a great brand (at the time) and a great title. In the eyes of a layman, I was the ‘manager’ in charge of the brand (as the title would suggest). In reality, I was responsible for some brand projects & campaigns and I generally ‘got things done’. However, when it came to more strategic decisions, that was the responsibility of the Senior Brand Manager or the Marketing Manager – they were the real ‘managers’ of the brand.

In the cold light of day, Brand Managers do not (generally) make the big decisions involving brand strategy, they execute the day to day campaign tasks, but they are not accountable for delivering the brand strategy in it’s entirety. Subsequently, they don’t have the authority to move brand budgets around. They may control a budget for a certain project, but if a new opportunity (eg. a new piece of start-up tech) comes along and requires some budget allocation, the Senior Brand Manager or Marketing Manager will usually sign this off.

Anatomy of a brand marketing team

So who really does what? Please find below a ‘whistle-stop’ overview of the numerous roles within a Marketing team:

Assistant Brand Manager: the first rung of the Marketing career ladder. This role is all about learning the ropes and assisting in delivering smaller / tactic projects. Budget scope: minimal

Brand Manager: responsible for executing tactical projects and campaigns. Budget scope: responsible for small campaign budgets.

Senior Brand Manager: responsible for key brand campaigns and assists in strategic direction of the brand. Budget Scope: responsible for sizable budgets for key campaigns

Marketing Manager: responsible for delivery of the brand strategy across all campaigns. Budget Scope: accountable for the optimal allocation of the total brand budget.

Brand Director / Marketing Director: sets strategic direction for the brand and ensures that wider business is aligned. Budget Scope: technically accountable for the total Marketing budget, but execution of budgets lies with the Marketing Manager and the wider brand team.

Who controls the budget?

In terms of who is the best person to release budget for new start-up tech innovation, the ‘sweet spot is the Marketing Manager or the ‘Senior Brand Manager’. They are the real ‘gate keepers’ of the brand budget – they will decide whether budget should or could be allocated to support a new piece of start-up tech innovation.

In contrast, if you are in front of a Brand Director or Marketing Director, you may have gone in too high – they themselves could just refer you to their 2nd in command – the ‘Marketing Manager’, for the final assessment of the opportunity and the final decision?

This obviously isn’t a definitive description of the many different positions within a Marketing team, it is just a ‘heads up’ that some times titles can be misleading. Obviously, you can’t pick who you pitch your new start-up tech innovation to and you can only present to who is in the room – however, just be aware that, when it comes to managing the brand budgets, Brand Managers aren’t always the Brand Managers.

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