The marketing recruiters here at Microsoft get together regularly to discuss topics that affect our work and to collaborate. One thing that we do is look at positions that are similar but sit in different organizations  (which are owned by different recruiters). This gives the recruiters a chance to collaborate in their candidate generation activities as well as share candidates that they have already found. The marketing recruiters here are particularly good at this (an unselfish group, let me tell ya!) because they really want to get people hired. That is the one thing that we are all exceptionally passionate about because we know what a difference a career change can make in the life of a person (hmm, I may be starting to tear up a little...what can I say, I love to help people).

We recruit for a lot of product managers, marketing managers and business development managers...you know that. There are always many of those positions open at any one time. The tough space is around the REALLY nichey positions (in my previous post “Recruiting for Marketing is Hard“, I mentioned that all of the marketing roles here are nichey, but I'm talking today about the ones that don't even fall under the titles of product manager, marketing manager or business development manager). That's where the great recruiters shine and where recruiters in general will spend a disproportionate amount of their candidate generation time; finding these candidates with very specific skill sets.

One such role, that we happened to discuss today, was Brand Manager. I explained before that sometimes it's hard to tell what a marketer does by their title because a title like “Product Manager” could refer to so many different kinds of roles (I couldn't even estimate). OK, so take that complexity and then factor in a title that isn't as abundant; for example, “Brand Manager”. Not only are there a bunch of different definitions of brand management (probably not as many as product management, but enough), but there aren't as many visible folks out there doing it.

Here is what I think of as the different types of brand management roles. You may have some to add:

1) Person who works at a consumer packaged good company and is responsible for a brand or “product line”. Typically these CPG roles cover inbound AND outbound marketing. What comes to mind is someone managing “Tide”. It's a brand but there are several individual products that are called “Tide”. Some flavors of this:

  • the person who owns the brand name itself and the overall messaging and (visual) identity that goes with it
  • the person that is responsible for product strategy for one of the products within the brand
  • the person that is responsible for the messaging and/or visual identify for the product within the brand

I would differentiate these folks from the people doing similar functions at tech companies because the approach to the work is so different.

2) Person that is responsible for a messaging strategy for a corporate brand (like Microsoft):

  • person responsible for the actual messaging framework
  • person responsible for the visual identity (logo, colors, etc.) creation and policing

3) Similar to #2 above, but the person is responsible for a product line brand (like “Windows“). Mostly outbound focus on messaging and/or visual identity

4) Like #2 and #3 above, but focused at the individual product level (probably rare for this role to exist unless the product is HUGE). A Microsoft-specific example would be “Windows XP Professional”. Again, mostly outbound, but could be part of the job of a product manager that has inbound responsibilities (in which case the person is called a product manager anyway).

5) Same as a product manager. Some companies like to use the Brand Manager title instead (again, see this a lot in consumer packaged goods although at tech companies these roles seem to have more product planning involved).

What am I missing? Are there other types of roles that are referred to as “Brand”? And what is the difference between “Brand” and “Branding”?

We are recruiting on some of these things right now, so if you fall into any of the categories above, feel free to shoot over your resume!