Following on from our recent blog post about Brand Management we have an excellent interview with Christel Vaenerberg, former brand manager at Iittala and new member of the EzyInsights team. Christel is a great addition to the company and a very suitable knowledge bank 🙂
JB: How did you get involved in brand management?
CV: Well brand management was not an obvious choice for me; I slipped into it when becoming a product manager and as the role of marketing and “branding” has developed over the years it was a natural progression. Over the last 20 years I walked the entire route from products to concepts, to brands and service creation. It took years for most of us to realize that it’s not about the brand, it’s about the consumer, or a combination of the two; it’s about the role each brand plays in the daily life of the unique consumer. It’s very funny to realize how late the unique consumer concept entered the picture.
Brand is a perception between the ears of an individual. Every perception is unique.
JB: I quoted your thoughts on what brand means, can you expand on that?
CV: Interact meaningfully with your fans that are the most important to you, at the right time and in a way that matters to them. Don’t talk only because you have to, or to satisfy management.
JB: What is a brand manager and what are the most important things to remember when managing a brand?
CV: It’s about business. I see the brand managers’ role as one that ensures that the brands perception is developing and delivering according to business strategies of both the company and the brand. You need to act according to your strategy, both long term and short term! It is also important to use measures that are meaningful. There is a lot of analysis and research involved. You need to know your audience.
JB: What are the most important things to remember when managing a brand?
CV: Business is usually related to some sort of growth. A brand manager wants the amount of fans of the brand to grow . You need to understand your target groups to be able to reach them and continuously appeal to them. In order to do this you must know many things about your audience, being present in their life and at the forefront of their minds wherever, whenever and in whatever way that matters to them.
Marketing has changed from being product centered to being consumer centered. Now it isn’t even about “the consumer” in the broad sense; it’s now more specifically centered around the lives of individuals.
JB: What about the role of Social Media?
CV: One very powerful way to create brand knowledge is by word of mouth as opposed to paid media methods. It is both a demanding and rewarding effort. Who is talking on Social Media today? Unique individuals, that are both expressing themselves and absorbing information that affects their perceptions. You need to look at these perceptions with a 360 degree view, 24/7, 365 days a year and decide where you as a brand want to be.
Social Media is not somewhere the brand just goes and does something. It’s a practice or course of action. It’s part of the target groups’ life and part of your strategy of being present in your target groups’ life.
Social Media is still young; E-Bay came about in 1995, Google in 1998 and Facebook in 2004. How could anyone predict that it would grow so fast!
JB: What were the biggest issues you faced in your roles in this area?
CV: One huge challenge that is ever present is the generation gap that exists between decision makers and many end users. As there is a paradigm shift in communication, selling and living going on – this is still very hard to understand for many. Companies really should ensure that they have a diversity of age and insights present in all company functions.
A Social Media mindset must be integrated into the company and not treated as an afterthought. Social Media demands transparency and a dynamic way of acting even if you are structured and working towards set goals, it also demands understanding that not all goals can be easily put into simple metrics. When you listen on Social Media you get loads of qualitative data that needs to be digested.
JB: One last question, for now. What attracted you to EzyInsights?
CV: I wanted to use my branding, product development and marketing skills for something new. Reading an article from the McKinsey quarterly on improving the Social Media presence of companies made me decide that this area has a bright future, and that experience and a curious mindset are a necessity when dealing with paradigm shifts.
After meeting with the guys here and seeing what they are creating I was happy to join them. EzyInsights will soon be giving companies guidance and real insights on how to improve in a way that really matters, by helping them to identify and reach out to those on Social Media who really matter.
You can reach out to Christel on Twitter @titca or on LinkedIn and why not sign up for early access to see how EzyInsights can help you.