The Death of the Brand Manager

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For decades, a handful of large, brand monarchs ruled marketing empires, controlling the message, the airwaves and the channels.

But now, consumers have broken through the gates and small brands are starting to win this game of thrones.

The innovative, no name brands that were once too small to be any real threat are becoming anything but. They’re showing up on shelves that were once unavailable to any brand without big bucks for TV support and slotting fees. They’re reinventing themselves faster than we can align on a concept for test.

And our consumers, once neatly bundled into measurable and targetable demographic groups, are now reorganizing themselves, hijacking our brands and taking over the airwaves.

Today’s brand-building game is played in an open, unpredictable arena where very few rules govern how a brand is positioned, where it is placed, and how it is talked about.

This isn’t just a digital revolution. This is total brand anarchy.

Still Operating on Old Hardware

All that is certain is that this new, ever-changing landscape is only going to increasingly reinvent itself. Our processes that once served us, rooted in control, are now the formula for irrelevancy.

Yet, internally, where we’re safe and in control, we can breathe easy as we spend our year orbiting around our epic annual plans, strategizing, testing, analyzing and endlessly re-planning. As brand leaders, we have been groomed and pedigreed to operate off decades of best in class thinking proven to model consumer behavior, stimulate trial, purchase and loyalty.

But at the end of the day, when we shut off the lights and go home, our brand children must live on the streets alone in the world, navigate the open seas and live or die by their own devices. And we can’t be there to save them.

This is a time of crisis; of complete chaos. The landscape that was once dominated by the giants has now totally up-ended. There are no proven strategies to win. Any tactic that won yesterday is now obsolete – not for use again. This is a time of constant reinvention.

The brands that are still tethered to their helicopter brand mothers will undoubtedly struggle to find their footing in today’s world. But the brands that can thrive in today’s unpredictability and navigate with fluidity will become the survivors.

These are the Free-Range Brands.


Written by Nicole Ertas, Titled by Andy Horrow

© 2014 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved

One thought on “The Death of the Brand Manager

  1. Loved the article , especially the “this is total brand anarchy” line. Your logo is amazing and so unique and innovative, it’s your hand, great idea. Quoting Milton Friedman, my favorite, Reagan’s former economic adviser, loved it. Excellent article.

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