20 Common Brand Management interview questions and answers

Brand Management interview questions and answersIt works the same for all of us! Whether it’s a fresher at his campus interviews or a slightly experienced lad trying to make that big switch or a C-suite executive meeting the board, interviews world over have the same testing grounds and as much one prepares for it, he is never prepared enough.

World over, most of us carry our confidence in a freshly dry cleaned suit,keep sufficient copies of our resume (taken from that corner office printer) and call in sick all of a sudden; first timers also add a big black leather folder of their achievements that could range from sports to singing.

I may not the best authority on giving interview tips, but with a little bit of experience and some grey hair now (premature greying folks), I can say ‘interviews can be a tremendous learning experience, whichever side you are.
For aspirants wanting to get into the ‘Big Mad World of Marketing’, I have left you with Q&A’s that may not be the ‘Gospel of Truth’ but may just come in handy before that much awaited interview of yours.

Let’s just say you are sitting opposite the interviewer, most likely a 35+ something Vice President – Brand Development or Chief Marketing Officer or Group Head – Sales & Marketing, be sure that he is going to grill you (both in the interview and later on the job).

As the interview progresses and after you have given him enough of your personal jazz and broken the ice, the conversation will move towards testing your aptitude for the role.
There is a little tip I would like to share here, No interviewer likes a candidate with half-baked knowledge, so ensure you study a couple of things well.

  • The Company – their products, brands, markets, latest updates, key people and financials (if a listed one)
  • The Interviewer – most information about him would be available on LinkedIn (and if you don’t want your profile appearing on his feed, check your privacy settings and do the needful). As an interviewee, you should be updated about the person you’re meeting, his past work, educational creds and any major achievements he may have had.
  • Yourself – the resume you shared with them is not just a piece of paper, they will most likely fish for questions from it, so ensure you give them solid fact based well-thought answers.

Let’s move to some role specific brand management questions and how to answer them (in no particular order).
 

5 Common Brand Management interview questions and answers

 

1. Talk about the importance of brand management? Why do you think is important?

These kind of questions will most likely be directed towards students at a campus interview. One needs to really internalize and believe that Branding is important and the reasons could be plenty. Personally speaking if you look out in the world today, you find brands everywhere, they are a more than just names, sign, symbol or term used to differentiate ones goods from another, and in essence a brand is a promise that impacts the human psychology.

We all like to be associated with brands, either to be assured of the quality of the product, to enjoy a certain experience or simply uplift our social status. In my opinion brands outlive products for e.g. Instant Noodles would not be the same if not for Maggi. If you realize Maggi has grown to become an emotion, else #Maggiban would not have trended on social media (in positive light I mean).
 

2. What are some of your favorite marketing campaigns?

I have been questioned on this some half a dozen times. The choice varies and can be extremely subjective, what may appeal to me will not necessary be on your list of favorites, but these kind of questions can be approached with a certain thought.

Break down your marketing campaigns across various elements.

  1. Campaign Objective
  2. Media Channels
  3. Agency
  4. Service Experience
  5. Post Campaign performance

Let’s take an example of Lufthansa’s campaign – ‘More Indian than you think’
(link for TVC)

Understand that every brand rolls out a campaign for one of the following objectives

  • New Product launch
  • Brand Awareness
  • Revive Market Share
  • Entering a new market

My best guess is Lufthansa’s campaign objective was to ‘Revive the market share’ and attract the non-corporate Indians travelling to the West. With the rise of Middle Eastern Airline giants like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, European carriers have seen a decline in their market share for multiple reasons – better inflight experience, affordable fares, better stopovers. (#DubaiDutyFree, #QatarDuty free and the likes).

I am sure Lufthansa here would have done an exhaustive research to understand why they were losing out to competition and what differentiated others from them. So clearly the entire ‘Cold German’ experience was not what ‘Non Corporate Indians’ appreciated. If you observe closely, I am insisting on ‘Non Corporate Indians’ because this is the segment they were looking to revive.

Next is the choice of media vehicles – May it be mainstream TVC, Print, Outdoor or going big on Digital. Such kind of research always helps. Media selection is extremely important behind planning any big or small campaign, because no Marketer likes to waste dollars on ‘Attracting the Wrong Customer’

Third is the agency – While this kind of info may not be readily available, a little bit of smart google search helps. This campaign for Lufthansa was conceptualized by McCann and the media agency was Mindshare.

Service experience – Is there a way you have noticed a change in their service experience or product offering? While it may be relatively easier for product brands, service brands need to truly internalize the campaign thought and demonstrate this across various customer touch points. Sometimes it is best to experience it for yourself (I don’t recommend purchasing the next ticket on Lufthansa now!)

Lastly, what was the post campaign performance? Any and every marketing campaign ultimately needs to result into a healthier top line else most people like me will be found wanting for jobs. Look out for what was the post campaign performance, some brands put up such results in their press releases and its available over the internet. Check this link for Lufthansa’s performance.
 

3. How do you stay updated on the latest tools and trends?

Speaking for myself, I am regular to browse on Campaign India, Campaign Middle East, Mashable (since I take care of Digital Marketing), Hub Spot, Blogs on company websites and watch a lot of Youtube content.

I would also urge you to subscribe to HBR articles to understand of some work happening globally. For the rest, the internet is your universe!
 

4. How would you spend your first week at work in your new role as a Marketing Manager?

For the ‘Experienced Ones’ – I don’t think you need an answer to this, but for somebody looking to start off their careers in marketing, this question can be thrown in during that ‘coveted interview’. In the first week of joining any company, there is practically nothing you can do apart from getting your basics in order like employee id, IT setup, frequent visits to the cafeteria or exchanging unwanted pleasantries.

But you can definitely have an approach to this, step back and put a logical flow. I would say, in addition to my regular tasks, I would like love to add on to my understanding of customers, our products, competitors’ offering. If possible, accompany our sales reps on their field visits, speak to our retailers/ distributors and shadow them on customer calls. Ingrain this in your mind, a marketer has and must put in a lot of time in the market understanding his current customers, potential customers, competitors’ customers and lost customers. Even CMO’s of companies like HUL, P&G have their dose of field visits.So don’t hesitate to step out of that work station.
 

5. [Case study interview question] Let’s say we want to enter Market X, how would you describe a ‘Go-to-Market Strategy’ for that?

Should this question be thrown at you, ‘Don’t panic or put pressure on yourself to remember Kotler. The one asking you only wants to understand your thought process, the way you approach the question.GTM strategy cannot be defined over interview conversations, it is a detailed session that runs over months. Keep it simple, try and apply this framework and expand a little on each of it.

  • Who? (Customers)
  • What? (Offerings)
  • How? (Channels)

 

6. How would you see our competition?

With more than just the naked eye!
What I mean by this is, earnestly take the effort to study your target brands’ competition– be updated about their products (try them if you can), learn about the markets they operate in, their service experience, pricing strategies and anything that has brought them in the news. (The Good, Bad and definitely ‘The Ugly’- learning from their failure can be your biggest success).

Keep an eye for both your direct and lateral competition. Simply put the ones who can eat into your ‘Share of Wallet’ and the ones who can into your ‘Share of mind’ e.g. Oyo Rooms and an Airbnb may not necessarily be competing directly, but they do try and reach out to the same segment – ‘Budget Traveler’.
 

7. As a marketing manager how will you manage customers giving negative social media reviews about your product?

Hashtags can make life miserable for marketing & customer care teams. First step is to bring the conversation offline – email him, call him, meet him if need be, but never build a conversation on your social media page, else that one tweet can become a ‘full-fledged troll’.

For ones in marketing roles, ensure you engage with Social media listening experts and regularly monitor your channels.
 

8. What are the biggest challenges you foresee in this role?

This comes with some level of experience, you can’t put challenges without knowing anything.
A. Ability to deliver within budgets, most times under allocated budgets.
B. Retain, if not grow the market share.
C. Turnaround ‘an unclear brief’ into an ‘attractive campaign’ under pressed timelines.
D. Develop the skills to manage your agencies, vendors and suppliers.
E. Ensure a positive ROI, so that your finance department smiles at you.
 

9. How would you rate your understanding of Digital Marketing? Do you think there is merit for us to relook at media planning and move some budgets to Digital?

Cliché but a relevant question. Not knowing Digital Marketing is almost next to being extinct as a marketer. So read all you can about Digital marketing, at least it’s important to have a logical approach to such questions even if you don’t know everything.

Media planning is critical and one needs to include Digital in their way of things. You’ll be surprised to know the dollars it saves and returns it can give.
 

10. What metrics are important to you as a brand manager?

Keep it to basics, try and cover
Performance Metrics – Lead Generation, wallet share, revenue
Customer metrics – Cust. Satisfaction, Purchase intent, advocacy intent
Brand health metrics – awareness & usage, positioning, sentiment analysis
 

10 More Brand Management interview questions for freshers and experienced folks

Here are 10 popular brand management interview questions for practise.
 

  1. How do you know when a branding strategy isn’t working?
  2. Case based – Do you think Brand X should enter a different customer segment?
  3. Describe a time where you made a major mistake and had to think on your feet to come up with a solution.
  4. Give us an example of how you have managed a marketing campaign on time and under budgets?
  5. Any example of a campaign that did not work as per your plan? What was your plan B?
  6. Do you have any hobbies or interests that have added value to you as a Marketer?
  7. Let’s say our CEO wants to evaluate our blog, you think you could help him?
  8. Assuming we hire you, how would you jump in as a project manager for an upcoming product launch? Can you walk us through that process?
  9. Are you open to traveling on work irrespective of weekdays/ weekends?
  10. Tell me about your personal brand?

 
I can write pages, but in the interest of time I have expanded on a few important ones. Feel free to add more and spread knowledge for aspiring candidates out there. On a side note, keep calm and good luck for that interview!


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Akshay Vasan //
Akshay Vasan
Akshay is a Brand & Auto enthusiast from Mumbai. Currently, he manages the Digital Marketing practice for Landmark Group based out of Dubai. He loves plane spotting, food tasting, dramatizing and pool plunging.

27 Comments

  1. Brijesh says:

    This is an excellent article. Thanks a million Akshay!!!
    Can you please share an example and explain how to answer 12th one on case based question?
    Are there standard frameworks to use for such questions like they have in management consulting case interviews?

  2. Akshay says:

    Thanks Brijesh for reading and appreciating it!

    As for Q 12, its a case of brand extension.
    Consultants most likely will have a complex framework, but for the sake of our discussion I would keep this simple.

    For a brand extension, I would look at
    A) Fit
    B) Leverage
    C) Opportunity
    D) Experience

    It needs to be a logical brand extension either horizontal or vertical, Parent brand should enjoy a positive equity and a positive experience and lastly this extension should provide an opportunity to grow sales.

    e.g. The good ones
    1) Mars chocolate bars to Mars ice cream.
    2) Lifebuoy Soap to Lifebuoy hand wash
    3) Vicks Vaporub to Vicks Inhaler

    The ones not required
    1) Nirma detergent to Nirma beauty soap (they roped in Sonali bendre and it did not quite help, because it was difficult to let go of the image of the popular Nirma Girl)
    2) Ponds toothpaste (little hard to imagine brushing your teeth with it)
    3) Zippo women’s perfume

    Should you want more info, I encourage to read articles by Aaker

  3. Brijesh says:

    Thank you. Your articles and comments are very helpful.

  4. George says:

    Hi Akshay,

    I have did my Bachelors in Business Studies , majored in marketing and Brand Management, also completed my MBA in International Business in 2014 from the UK. Due to circumstances I started a career in IT from 2014 to present. But I want to switch careers and go back to what I want to do which is marketing. Have no long term experience working besides a brief 3 months assignment right after university.

    As I found when I finished university in 2014, struggling to find a break again now and quite flummoxed. Can you please advise on where I should start ?

    Regards,
    George

  5. Akshayvasan says:

    Hi Brijesh,

    Came across an article for brand extension, quite an unusual though and very recent. Just thought of sharing this.
    https://mashable-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/mashable.com/2017/03/22/durex-launching-jeans-denims-people-amused.amp

  6. Akshay says:

    Hi George,
    Couple of things I wanted to understand from you,
    Are you currently based in UK or India?
    What exactly do you do in IT?

    At a top level, here are your best choices. I shall send you my thoughts over an email once I hear back from you.

    1) Look to move into the Mktg team of your current organisation, I am sure there is one. Have a chat with your HR and tell them about your career aspirations and the role switch you want to make.

    2) Look out for jobs in Ad Agencies, you might just get a foothold in client servicing teams. Mind you – the pay won’t be great and you may have start off from the lowest point but it will definitely get you the much needed exposure.

    3) Get back to academics -If your financial situation permits, look at pursuing a full time Masters program in India from a Tier 1 school and that should get you on the right path towards pursuing a career in Marketing. I wouldn’t recommend pursuing part time programs because they don’t really help in making the career switch.

  7. vikasmani tiwari says:

    Hello akshay,
    I have pursued my BMS from Mumbai university, and I have worked with a pharma company for 2 and half years in their execution of sales strategies. i was responsible to meet doctors, distributors and retailers and maintain relation with them in order to get business. currently, I am under admission process for MBA for next academic year. i would like to get some suggestion on what skills i should try to acquire the most during these 2 year post graduation. I had always great interest in brand management right from the second year of BMS.

  8. Akshay vasan says:

    Hi Vikas,

    I’m glad you’re in the process of getting into an MBA program. My sincere advise to you would be to focus on a top program whether in India or anywhere else. A good quality MBA program will give you the right break in a marketing/ brand role else it would be tough to break in.
    You seem to have a background in healthcare/pharma sales and that can definitely add immense value when you look at pursuing your MBA, not too sure if you want to continue in the healthcare/ pharma space. But there are a whole lot of companies out there in this space who are big on marketing – J&J, Pfizer, Cipla, GSK to name a few.
    With respect to skills, it needs to be a mix of soft skills + tech skills. Look at understanding some analytical tools that are used in marketing, obviously mircrosoft office suite will be your best friend once you start working so ensure you’re hands on with it, some others can be influencing and negotiation (both these come with thorough understanding of the situation at hand), I would encourage you to read a lot about marketing in general, brands in India, globally, new product launches, marketing campaigns.
    Other thing is keep your eyes and ears open – observe different media channels (print, radio, outdoor, DIGITAL) take a note of the kind of brands that advertise, their communication strategy and then try and link it back to the product offering.
    Any reputed MBA program will have different cohorts to pursue one’s interest. Join a marketing club/ group within your institute and use that as a platform to widen your knowledge.
    Lastly, don’t leave any opportunity to participate in inter b-school competitions related to marketing, numerous schools organize these. It helps develop confidence and a certain thought process.
    Guess have given a lot of gyaan here, feel free to reach out for specifics. All the best with your prep!

  9. Ebele says:

    Hello Akshay,
    “Tell me about your personal brand?” How does one answer this…please I need your perspective.

  10. Akshay Vasan says:

    Hi Ebele,

    Before I answer this, I’m going to give you an exercise to do. Pick out any 5 famous personalities you know of ( keep it a mix of a sportsmen, actor, politician, businessman)

    With every name, there will be a list of qualities you would associate each of them with.

    These qualities or attributes are nothing but our personal brand.

    What are your attributes?
    What is your USP?

    Also, get some friends or family members to describe you and this should help you derieve some insights.

  11. vikasmani tiwari says:

    hi,
    i have 30 months work experience in pharma sales, currently pursuing my MBA from mumbai. I really want to become a brand manager but i am not very social person. although my work tought me handling situation very well. i do not want to continue in pharma industry as i was commerce student.
    1-what should be my focus during these 2 years.
    2- which are the industries i can look for the career as brand manager.

    • Akshay says:

      Hi Vikas,
      Apologies for a late revert.
      Social or not, shouldn’t affect your success in the field of brand management. So don’t worry about that.
      But as an aspiring brand manager, I would ask you to be Socially aware – by that I mean keep a know how of things around you, read regularly, try and keep profiles on social media channels (and be active even if it means virtually and logging in everyday)

      From 2 years, I understand you’re pursuing a full time residential program so that’s very nice. It will allow you to immerse yourself into the program completely. In your second year, you will have to make a choice on your electives so without doubt, keep it a marketing heavy 2nd year.

      But in your first year as well, try and join some marketing clubs, read regularly, do some case studies and hunt for an intership that gives you a foothold into marketing (even it doesn’t pay you).

      Making a choice of industry depends on whether you want to be with service brands or product brands?
      Pharma is also a great industry to be with. I mean there is immense scope for consumer marketing in OTC products. Your first job won’t necessary designate you as a brand manager but you could make your way there with roles such as trade marketing, research or anything that let’s you sit and associate yourself with marketing team.

      Feel free to write back if I haven’t answered this well.

      • vikasmani tiwari says:

        thank you akshay,
        i would like to continue in a product based company rather than service based. as i belong to commerce background, i don`t see myself fit in pharma market. I am very desperate about joining a brand management team after my PG and trying my best to make myself best for given job roles. which are the industries in india do you think, i can join after this 2 year to get the best learning in order to grow like you.

  12. rachana says:

    Hey Akshay,
    I really loved your article and it was really inspiring.I’m currently in my TYBMS and thinking to pursue a career in brand management. I would like to know the difference between the job profile of a luxury brand manager and a normal brand manager and which one is better, I’m really confused between the two. Also does brand management gives you a chance to travel often? Also what will be better, working for 1-2 years and then pursuing a MBA in brand management or directly getting into a MBA school ?

    • Akshay says:

      Hi Rachana,
      Apologies for a late revert! I’m assuming by now you would be in your sixth semester.
      Luxury brand management is a niche profile but can be highly rewarding. There’s a saying that ultra rich people don’t face recession, so from that perspective luxury brands would probably never undergo one!
      Luxury brand management means catering to the sensibilities, taste and moods of the highest income levels of the society. In India, that number stands to 14,800 people (multi-millionaires). So everything you work on will be for a handful of the society, you’re campaigns, media choices, communication, packaging, quality etc will all have to be of the highest level. Did you know Rolls Royce cars are fitted with hand-crafted leather and every car is made-to order (at least that’s what I’ve read).
      But I do know, that luxury brand management is a very niche subject so just covering an elective here and there may not be a significant value add. If you’re really interested in pursuing this, look at some courses (I know a lot of schools in Europe offer intensive masters’ programs for luxury brand management)

      Normal brand management is more around mass products, so your campaigns, media plans, budgets are at a high scale. You’re looking to impact the lives of millions and not just the ones with millions! In my opinion, it’s challenging, competitive, evolving and huge on consumer research. I’m sure even luxury brands rely a lot on research, but it’s at a higher scale with mass brands.

      Travel is a part of every marketers’ job, so irrespective of what category of brands you work for you would have to travel. With luxury brands, you may just get to travel to fancy places across the globe.

      End of it, people want to associate with brands for fulfill their aspirations and uplift their social status. It’s like a consumer is standing at some level of the ladder and is always looking to climb up.

      As for pursuing your MBA now or later, if you’re keen on the luxury brand management sector – why don’t you work at the retail side for a couple of years before pursuing a full-fledged MBA.

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/feb/15/recession-bypasses-luxury-goods-market

  13. Anisan says:

    Hey Akshay,
    First of all let me heartily thank you for the wonderful insight about brand management in your article. I am a B.Pharm Graduate currently working in an Pharma MNC company as an sales executive for more than a year. Though my seniors accolades me highly for my work but I now want to shift gears to marketing as a product manager. So will it be wise enough for me to leave the current job and pursue a full time Mba in marketing or pharma? Should I pursue correspondence either wise so to continue my job and safeguard both the ends?
    Please help me to understand the better picture.

    • Akshay says:

      Hi Anisan,
      Congratulations on being an achiever, I have a lot of respect for sales professionals. In my opinion, it is the best way to be as close to the customer.
      If you’re looking to make your career in the Pharma space, I’d recommend you to atleast put 2 years in your current job and then go in for a full time MBA, unless your company can sponsor your MBA and assure you of a position in product management/ marketing.
      Research on schools that offer an MBA in healthcare (I know Tapmi has this) and connect with their alumni to understand what kind of roles one can expect.
      Good luck, feel free to connect again.

  14. Aditya says:

    Wow, man the amount of content you bring to the table is amazing. I am sure a lot of it was built over the years with your hands in the dirt and your dreams on fire, but if you had to point out few books/articles/sources that have shaped your thinking as a Brand Manager, which one would you choose? I am asking this so as to develop a similar acumen.

    • Akshay says:

      Hi Aditya,
      The internet is your universe! But if you had to refer to some content (I’ve never really read books on brand management) here’s a few sights I recommend
      1) Campaign India
      2) Adfaq’s
      3) HBR
      4) Think with Google (more on digital marketing best practices with Google)
      5) Mashable (again digital marketing)
      6) Social Samosa
      7) ET brand equity

  15. Akshay says:

    Hi Akshay,
    This article was very helpful. I am currently under admission process for full time MBA.
    Could you please help with your thoughts on the marketing world after two years?
    Will it rise or decline?, will it be more competitive?, etc..

    • Akshay says:

      Marketing can’t decline although the methods will change. Budgets are moving towards digital and so marketers also need to be well equipped to run campaigns on these mediums.

      Along with your MBA, pursue something on digital & content marketing

  16. Parth Rajyaguru says:

    I request you to give ans of 11 to 20 also
    its help to candidates who want to start their career as marketer.

    Thank You.

    Regards,
    Parth Rajyaguru
    +91-9601600005

  17. Akshay says:

    Hi Parth,
    I may not be able to answer everything below since some of these are based on personal experiences, but I’ll try and elaborate on a few.

    How do you know when a branding strategy isn’t working?
    You need to measure on metrics such as brand health, market share, customer reviews, retailer/ distributor reviews

    Refer to some of the below links for additional information.
    http://smallbusiness.chron.com/measure-branding-effective-10102.html
    https://hingemarketing.com/blog/story/3-signs-you-should-rethink-your-branding-strategy
    http://dsim.in/blog/2017/01/06/case-study-big-brand-failures-lessons-learn/

    Case based – Do you think Brand X should enter a different customer segment?
    Refer above to the reply I’ve given to Brijesh

    Do you have any hobbies or interests that have added value to you as a Marketer?
    I like to travel and that’s added value as a marketer, because each time I travel either within India or abroad, I try and consume brands (product or service), observe all the touch points (in case of service brands) or attributes (in case of product brands) and try and record my observations
    Another one being I try and read often on everything happening in the world of marketing -India or globally so that keeps me updated even if it means for an unrelated category.
    I read a lot about people who’ve been instrumental in transforming brands or creating them and follow them on linkedin, occasionally even strike a chat.

    Let’s say our CEO wants to evaluate our blog, you think you could help him?
    First understand if a blog is really required? Blogs are great source of content and brands can benefit from this. You have to question the purpose behind the blog, what are the content pillars you’d want to add there, how will you want to promote the blog?

    Assuming we hire you, how would you jump in as a project manager for an upcoming product launch? Can you walk us through that process?
    Depends on what stage of the launch you’re being involved at? You can’t expect to jump in a week before a product launch and create miracles. The best you could do here is to try and ensure a smooth roll-out as per plan.

    But here’s how I would approach this. I’d spend a few days thoroughly going through all the pre-work that would have gone behind planning a product launch (includes Why, When, Where, How of the product being launched), seek answers whenever needed (and not assume), shadow my retail team or sales team or field teams, meet creative & media agencies a few times to question the rationale.

    Go through the link below to understand some stages.
    https://wearecollider.com/four-stages-of-planning-a-successful-launch-strategy/

    Are you open to traveling on work irrespective of weekdays/ weekends?
    I’ve always been open to travel at any time and day of the year unless it coincides with something important but again everyone doesn’t think alike. Reason I’ve been open to travel on weekends or odd-hours is because consumers can be best observed in their leisure time and not yours.

    Tell me about your personal brand?
    Refer to my answer for Ebele

  18. Miles M McKirdy says:

    G’day Akshay,
    I thoroughly appreciate the time, effort and insight you have provided on this! I’m literally 50mins away from a BM role with Pernod Ricard and feel so much more confident after going over your notes the past couple of days.

    I’ll be sure to let you know the outcome!
    Kind regards,
    Miles

  19. amit says:

    Very helpful article thanks Akshay. This really helped.

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