To have a career as a brand strategist takes time and first requires tackling various roles and projects within the marketing industry, ideally working with a variety or products and services, to be able to see long term growth objectives with a laser focus and seasoned vision.
Before you can claim to be a brand strategist you need an education, and ideally that education is aligned (see options below) but it doesn't always work out that way. Here are a few examples of what you can study to help prepare you to gain the in-field experience you'll need on this career path:
- Bachelor's Degree in Marketing: A bachelor's degree in marketing provides a comprehensive foundation in marketing principles, consumer behavior, market research, advertising, branding, and sales. This degree can be a solid starting point for entry-level marketing positions.
- Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration: A bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus on marketing can also lead to a career in marketing. This degree offers a broader understanding of business functions while incorporating marketing courses.
- MBA in Marketing: A Masters in Business Administration Marketing builds on your bachelor's-level coursework and aims to better prepare you for senior level positions. It can include courses like: organizational behaviour and development, branding, strategic marketing, and so on.
- Bachelor's Degree in Communications: A bachelor's degree in communications, particularly with a concentration in marketing or advertising, can be relevant for marketing careers. It emphasizes effective communication skills, messaging strategies, and media relations.
- Bachelor's Degree in Advertising: A specialized degree in advertising focuses on advertising strategies, creative development, media planning, and campaign management. It can be beneficial for roles that primarily involve advertising and promotions.
- Master of Science in Advertising: Once you've completed an undergraduate program, you can chose to learn more about producing and managing advertisements. Advertising and marketing work alongside each other and education in both is critical to success. Some key topics included are: advertising theory, research methods for advertising, and communication strategy.
- Master of Science in Marketing Management: A master's in marketing management is a way to cover marketing-specific competencies and administrative techniques with the goal of stepping into leadership positions as businesses seeking support with: market research, account management, product strategy, and design and manufacturing management, for example.
- Bachelor's Degree in Digital Marketing: With the growing importance of digital platforms, a degree in digital marketing equips you with skills in online marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics, and digital advertising.
- Bachelor's Degree in Psychology or Sociology: While not directly related to marketing, degrees in psychology or sociology can provide insights into consumer behavior, decision-making processes, and market research techniques. These fields can be advantageous in understanding target audiences.
The right education can help tee you up in your career but if you are seeking to become a brand strategist you will need patience and commitment to your craft long term. Noted above, learning the many facets of an ever-changing marketing industry requires that you genuinely like and remain curious about your work and nimble in your approach - this helps you stay innovative. The exact timeline can vary depending on individual circumstances and the path you choose to pursue.
A career as a brand strategist more about becoming than landing a role as a brand strategist - the title says nothing unless you have earned a wealth of experience, throughout years of work, to truly understand, conceptualize, and contribute to the role. Here are a few ways to help you on this path:
- Entry-Level Experience: After completing your degree, gain practical experience in marketing or advertising roles. Look for entry-level positions in marketing departments, advertising agencies, or brand management roles. This experience will provide you with a foundation of knowledge and skills in the industry. The duration of this phase can vary, but it's common to spend 2-4 years in entry-level roles.
- Advanced Education: if you're enjoying your work so far, in the field, consider pursuing a master's degree in a relevant field, such as brand management, marketing, or advertising (see examples above). This step is optional but can help you gain deeper knowledge and specialized skills. A master's degree typically takes 1-2 years to complete.
- Specialization and Skill Development: While gaining practical experience, focus on developing specific skills related to brand strategy. This includes understanding consumer behavior, market research techniques, brand positioning, messaging strategies, and creative development. Stay updated with industry trends and developments by attending workshops, conferences, and online courses. There are so many offerings now online which can help you hone in your skills and gain professional certifications from the comfort of home and for a fraction of the price of traditional educational institutions. Continuous learning is critical to your success in this role, as it will rely on you being on the pulse of all things at once.
- Find a mentor and keep networking: Seek opportunities to learn from seasoned brand strategists and people on your team or within your organization. Don't be afraid to ask questions, have informative coffee chats, and be expressive about your desire to hone your craft further - hopefully, with their support. Also, connect with professionals in the field through networking events, industry conferences, or online platforms. Mentors can provide valuable guidance, insights, and support as you progress in your career.
- Stick to & Be Confident in Your Vision: No idea is too big if it is broken down into steps. So long as your have a clear destination, you can work backwards to strategize the path toward it. Don't be afraid to articulate big, bold or crazy-sounding ideas to your team. Marketing requires creativity and if you're truly creative it may be new for many people because it hasn't yet been done.
- Listen: You won't be good at what you do unless you are tuned-in - to other people's thoughts, ideas, objectives, and motivations, as well as the feelings and attitudes of the environment you're working in.
- Don't be Afraid to Fail: If you're doing it right, you'll fail and have more bad ideas than you succeed and have good ones. True innovation requires you remove your ego from who you are and what you do in this role. You have to be your biggest advocate and truly believe in what you're doing long term.
In conclusion, becoming a seasoned brand strategist is a continuous journey that requires a combination of education, experience, and ongoing learning. It's important to be proactive, seek opportunities for growth, and continuously refine your skills to excel in this field. Most of all, a successful career in this role is heavily rooted in experience and so achieving this goal does take time - it is one that is more about becoming than the title itself.
"A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it and gives it meaning." - Air