What makes a brand specialist?

You’ll come across many people promoting themselves as brand or branding specialists – but what does the term mean, and how should you measure or justify their role? What skills, qualities and experience are essential?

This isn’t just a theoretical question – it’s critical for business people considering engaging such a specialist. The brand is fundamental to the business, in many senses it ‘is’ the business. So a skilled brand specialist can bring immeasurable value to an organisation – but equally, can do serious damage.

Essential skills & qualities

. One of the key business skills is almost certainly a practical understanding of marketing. Although brands exist outside the strict boundaries of business and commerce (institutions, charities, non-profits and the public sector, for example), the essential disciplines are those of marketing.

Psychology. Brands are about people. People make,manage, choose and relate to them. They exist at the points of contact between the organization and people.

Psychology provides the understanding of people. Critically, it generates insights into emotional needs and processes. The primary driver in brand connection, selection and loyalty is emotion. Without an understanding of of psychology we can’t get close to the operation of brands in the real world.

Research. How do we understand the audience, the marketplace, the cultural arena and the competition? The answer is research. Anyone involved in brands must have a grasp of the subject – that means numeracy. If data is king, statistics is queen.

Of course there are any number of additional qualities, including the ability to listen, communication skills and emotional awareness. Some brand specialists also have well developed design skills, analytical abilities and are highly organised.