Thursday, October 9, 2008

Manage the Brand First, then the Product

In some recent discussions with a fellow marketer, we talked about the difference between brand management and product management. He being a staunch product guy came at the discussion from a technical and functional point of view. Myself, being more concerned about the experience, came at it from a more customer-centric perspective.

Certainly, both perspectives and their corresponding activities are important. Each suggests necessary objectives to move closer to company goals. But what struck me is where you start. I think it is from the brand, and here's why.

Traditional product management starts from technological possibilities which lead to concept generation, selection, and design. A more brand-centric approach requires you to first examine the value customers receive from using your products, their expectatations and desires, and what needs they have (known or unknown). This point of genesis requires, however, the company to be more customer attuned rather than engineering focused.

When you manage the brand first, you start with a business review: marketplace standing, competition, distribution, and the customer perspective (whether present customers, competitive, or emerging). Then, if you weave into the discussion the technological possibilities and map them to potential product use and product potential, your perspective is outwardly-focused when selecting options and designing functionality.

Sure, this approach isn't for everyone or every company...just those that want to move beyond vanilla and mediocre into the remarkable.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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