The Origin of Brand Management

As more brands appeared within same market sectors while competition within categories increased, managing the creation of ads and resulting images was not enough. It is said that in 1931, Neil McElroy changed marketing forever when he wrote the classic memo at Procter and Gamble (P&G), which lead to the creation of the discipline of brand management (Aaker, Joachimsthaler, 2000; Larry Light, 2004; et al).

In this memo McElroy said that in addition to having a person in charge of the advertising of each brand, there should be a substantial team of people devoted to thinking about every aspect of marketing it. This dedicated group should attend to only one brand. The new unit should include a brand assistant, several “check-up people,” and others with very specific tasks.

The concern of these managers would be the brand, which would be marketed as if it were a separate business. In this way it would be possible to solve “sales problems” by analyzing sales and profits for each market area in order to identify problem markets21. Moreover, through brand management, the features and benefits of every brand would be distinguished from those of every other.

This evolution came from McElroy’s identified need of focusing and coordinating the marketing efforts for Camay soap. McElroy’s idea was that a brand management team would be responsible for creating a brand’s marketing program and coordinating it with sales and manufacturing. The process of managing a brand meant dealing with a complex system – often involving R&D, manufacturing, and logistics in addition to advertising, promotion, and distribution-channel issues. A brand management team had to include planners, doers, and motivators; while successful brand managers needed to have exceptional coordination and motivational skills.

According to Aaker, the classic brand management system was usually limited to a relevant market within a single country and the brand manager tended to be tactical and reactive, observing competitor and channel activity as well as sales and margin trends. Under this model Strategy was often delegated to an agency or simply ignored. From McElroy’s description, we can see that brand management began as a process responding to the need, identified by middle management, for a multidisciplinary, multifunctional team to manage a brand.

In the academic world brand management attracted the interest of numerous scholars from a wide variety of disciplines as psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics and strategy. In this way, two decades after McElroy’s important contribution to brand management, during the 1950s, Roose Reeves developed the idea of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and described it in a widely selling book “Reality in Advertising” published in 1960. Also at around that time, David Ogilvy, introduced the concepts that we know today as brand image and personality in 1955: Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace… Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol, which is the brand image.

Thus, even-though McElroy had already introduced a management based branding process; during the 1960s, the predominant and most widely used strategy was based on advertising the product advantages through “unique selling propositions” (USPs). As more products and brands focused on advertising their USPs, it became increasingly difficult to distinguish the unique characteristics of the offering.


The Origin of Branding read here

Branding during the Industrial Economy read here

The Origin of Brand Advertising read here

The Origin of Brand Management read here

The Origin of the Marketing Concept read here

Marketing Communication, Positioning and Differentiation read here

The 80s-90s and Brand Equity read here

New Trends in the early 2000’s read here

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  1. Pingback: Historical Background of Marketing and Brand Management

  2. Pingback: The Origin of Brand Advertising | iUriel

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