2.1.7 Brand owners and brand managers

Brand owners and brand managers fulfil an important role in order to create and maintain a sustainable competitive brand advantage. The way organizations allocate their resources, structures and financial accountability towards the brand as their most important asset (next to employees) is critical to the success of branding (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:7). Efficient brand management requires a long term vision, strategy and dedicated brand managers who nurture the intangible attributes as defined. Brand building is the result of a clear strategy and of excellence implementation at the product marketing drivers and communication levels (Kapferer, 2007:55 & 79).

Creating, building and maintaining a brand involves more then just a monolithic approach. As noticed in chapter 2.2 it is necessary to have a holistic approach with a strong alignment of all marketing / brand activities to deliver the brand promise to the customer and last but not least accelerate and increase the success of the brand. It has been recognized that development, design and implementation of brand processes are intersecting and interdependent across organizational processes and functional structures (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:15-18).

The paradox is not to prioritize at global brand development, but to create strong brands in all markets through global brand leadership. Aaker and Joachimsthaler have recognized the need for global brand leadership and assigned organizational structures, processes and cultures as key drivers for global brand leverage. To determine the success of global brand management they conducted interviews among 35 successful companies in US, Europe and Japan (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 1999:137-144).

Knowledge and experience of effective and efficient brand programs may vary across the global organization. To share the insights and best practises across the company, Aaker and Joachimsthaler concluded a companywide communication system as the most basic element of global brand leadership. Knowledge diffusion must be facilitated throughout the organization to create a foundation of relevant and easy accessible knowledge. Integrity, culture and free communication are decisive factors in the field of global brand management. For consistency and transparent brand processes it must be clear which brand manager or brand group is responsible for the brand and brand strategy.

The research of Aaker and Joachimsthaler suggests that brand responsibility for global brand leadership can follow four possible configurations; 

  1. Business management team 
    • Business management teams are led by senior executives with marketing or branding competences who consider brands as the key asset to their business.
  2. Brand champion
    • The brand champion is often a senior executive who has a passion and talent for brand strategy. The brand champion serves as the brand’s primary advocate and nurturer.
  3. Global brand manager
    • Global brand managers are middle manager in case of top management lacks marketing and/or brand competences. The branding expertise rest just below the top line managers. The success of the global brand manager depends on the sign-off authority for certain marketing programs.
  4. Global brand team 
    • Global brand teams are led by a team of middle managers to create a balanced and widely accepted brand strategy. Typically consist of brand representatives from different parts of the world. The success of the global brand team depends on the sign-off authority for certain marketing programs and clear understanding of roles and responsibilities for implementing global branding decisions.