Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What SHAPES a brand?

Throughout the Masters of Marketing program we have covered the subject of branding quite extensively, from building a strong brand (Innovative Marketing Strategies), measuring its effectiveness (Evaluating Marketing Performance), through to leveraging it internally (Internal Marketing).  But what does a brand manager actually do?  I caught up with a senior brand manager from Arnott’s to give us a little bit of insight.

Pizza SHAPES were my main source of nutrition as I travelled Australia back in 2003, and I have been a big fan ever since.  So you can imagine how happy I was to randomly bump into the senior brand manager for the entire SHAPES range. I had a lot of questions that needed answering. Why do I love pizza SHAPES so much? Why are they my ‘go-to’ snack? Why do I consider them healthier than other alternatives in the category? Why do I care that I can see flavour? Can I have a job please?

The answers lie within the marketing of the product and how the brand is mapped in my mind.  For me, pizza SHAPES are associated with: Australia; fun; treat; tasty; travel; friends; health (they are baked!); reward; snack; youth; box; purple; fresh; pizza dust; inexpensive.  These links to the brand are strongly connected, ensuring that pizza SHAPES are frequently at the front of my mind. Positioning is important, as it is a fast-moving good that requires low consumer involvement. This means it is important for brands to occupy a clear space in consumers’ minds and offer a consistently positive experience. Some of the associations are based on my experience of the brand, but the majority of them are due to effective management of the marketing mix. A brand manager is the person pulling all of these strings.

Central to any brand manager’s role is the strategy for the brand. Marketing activity will be SHAPED by where the brand is today, and where you want it to be in the future. This vision is determined by the brand manager and, for the SHAPES brand, realized by working closely alongside agency partners; product development; production (factory); sales teams and advertising. A brand manager needs to know their product, consumer and category inside out. In addition, they need to leverage this knowledge to manage internal and external parties to successfully deliver on the strategy. The diagram below illustrates a few of the parties that the SHAPES senior brand manager touches in their role.

As you can see, the brand manager’s role is very broad, spread internally and externally, and penetrates most aspects of the business.  They have to keep a lot of plates spinning and ensure all of these elements work together to ensure consistency and success within the market. Product development (within project management) is key to the long-term success of any brand, particularly within fast moving consumer goods. It keeps it fresh and exciting and ensures an ongoing dialogue with consumers. An example of this is the recent release of the SHAPES Soundz range, a new product development that epitomizes what Shapes is all about: fun and flavour!

So just as I am trying hard to kick my SHAPES habit, I can now add anything musical to my list of associations, giving me even more reasons to explain how an empty purple box ended up in my bin.
A prize to anyone who can use the word SHAPES more times in a blog post. Now go out and buy some of the new SHAPES Soundz!

Adam Kennedy
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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