The Bright Stuff: 5 Qualities for Becoming a Brand Strategist

CommPRO Global, Inc. |


Want to work in brand strategy? Get ready for a lifetime of explaining what you do. Because the truth is, it’s a complex discipline that usually can’t be summed up in one line, even by the most experienced of strategists.

Left brain? Right brain? Nope!

We operate right at the center, our eyes in peripheral vision and our ears always listening! (Our inner third eye exists, and gets used a lot.)

But enough about us, let’s talk about you!

Here’s what you can expect from starting out in Brand Strategy (either as an intern or entry level) and what is expected of you:

1. You Can’t Invent without Inventory (AKA Research and Data Analysis)

Expect a lot of projects to have a research component in it — anything from desk research, to reading Mintel reports, to searching the deep web (yes, you need to move beyond page 1 of Google search), designing questions for a survey (which includes making it and making people take it), walking the streets, observing people and even taking to a few strangers. But research is really ground zero for everything we do here in strategy. So dig in and learn.

What’s in it for you?

Love research reports? This is the career for you! Digging through data is a critical part of being a strategist and the more you do it the more you train your brain for the rigor, speed and processing power necessary to download information quickly.

2. Live the Brand Life

Any strategy team is obsessed with brands. Knowing about the latest brand marketing (regardless of channel) enables you to hold conversations with the rest of the team and be an active, informed participant. Keeping updated on what brands are doing and (more importantly) the business decisions behind why they’re doing it, is crucial to being a strategist.

What’s in it for you?

Every ad you watch, every social media innovation you discover is knowledge to be archived and brought back when dealing with a brand’s problem. An idea expressed with an example is better than an idea by itself!



3. Listen. Speak. Question. Observe. (But don’t forget to listen)

Listening is one of the core skills of a planner. Listen to what people are saying around you, get the whole picture, understand everyone’s priorities, question them so that they may reveal more, and when they do — listen. And as they speak, try and understand the motivation behind what they’re saying and what they need from you. Whether it’s a client meeting, your mentor giving you a task or your target consumer — always listen first. Once you learn how to do that, listen to what they’re not saying as well. Listening to the unsaid is sometimes far more important.

What’s in it for you?

Understanding people is key to this discipline. (Also, your family and friends will like you better, if you start listening to them – everyone loves a listener!)

4. Take Critique like a Champ (And then bounce back)

No one is perfect. And no one likes to be told the work they did didn’t hit the mark. You may be told that. (A lot) But that’s okay – because one of the best part of being a strategist is that you’re constantly learning, adapting and evolving your skills. That evolution will only make you stronger, because the average strategy team is always under pressure and tight timelines. We love you, but we need you to deliver what we need. We are here to guide you, but we need to see that you are trying first. If at any point you feel like you’re just not getting it, don’t wait — ASK, and then listen carefully to what is expected.

What’s in it for you?

Besides getting better at your work, you will develop a thick skin. The real world doesn’t revolve around you and your feelings. This will help ground you in the reality of corporate life.

5. Keep your Pulse on Culture

This is the fun part! Read a book, watch a cool documentary on Netflix, go to an art museum, watch a foreign film, cook an interesting meal — expand the horizons of your immersion in culture, observe and take notes and come tell us all about it. Make a deck on the Subtle Art of Crochet and why you think it’s cool and invite the team. We’re all ears! Being in tune with culture is important. You need to know what’s happening — not just in your category, but in the world around you. But, more importantly, immerse yourself in something that’s beyond the familiar.

What’s in it for you?

You will be the most interesting person in any room you walk in. That’s motivation enough, right?Neha Damle, Account Planner,

About the Author: Neha is a Brand Strategy partner with 6+ years of experience delivering business and brand strategy solutions across categories, predominantly focused on Retail, CPG and Media. At Brownstein Group, she is the Strategist responsible for the agency’s retail clients including IKEA and Wawa. Prior to joining Brownstein Group, Neha was at DDB India and then briefly in New York delivering strategy solutions for clients like Unilever, HBO and other big box retailers. She has an MBA in Communications Management with a major in Account Planning and won the “Top Dog” (Best Strategist) award at the Account Planning Bootcamp in Miami Ad School, New York in 2017.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

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