Brand Management: Team Structure and Organization

The essence of an effective team is in its purpose; teams structured around common goals and commitments become powerful agents of performance and growth. Efficient and effective brand teams are organized as cross-functional teams with a common purpose of brand performance and management. The teams are coordinated four to five years prior to product launches. Though teams alter membership throughout the lifecycle of the product, the common goal, structure and decision-making protocol must be adhered to throughout the process.

Another segment of a brand management team is its patent team, whose main involvement is in maximizing the patent life of a product. Companies must develop a careful planning and internal recruiting process to build this segment of the team. In fact, it is critical to hire the right person – from both a professional and personal standpoint – as this allows for improved performance.

Strong brand management teams have some things in common in regards to consistent patterns of working practices and relationships that support branding activities, even across differences in markets, drug maturity or alliance relationships. Most brand management teams recognize a core as well as an extended team, led by a team leader drawn from the marketing function and reporting into a senior marketing or a commercial executive. Teams representing drugs in earlier (usually pre-launch) stages may report to members drawn from clinical and R&D areas.

Ensure alignment between commercial and R&D groups within brand management teams

Companies with successful drug launches established a cohesive commercialization process that facilitates clinical and commercial collaboration during every product development stage. At such companies, the commercialization process aligns research clinical development efforts with evolving market needs. This requires a company to connect the work done by its R&D and commercial groups in order to leverage the strengths of talented medical researchers and skillful marketers. To accomplish this, most companies’ brand teams create core and extended teams. By developing and sharing clear goals and accountability, such teams establish a transparent decision-making process. Team members and leaders communicate frequently to:

  • Identify new market opportunities
  • Evaluate competitive positioning
  • And address product development issues.

This ongoing collaboration bridges the gap between break-through scientific discoveries and commercial potential and enables successful companies to target and develop their products with the greatest potential.

Brand teams grow modestly as brands mature post-launch. At such times, many companies supplement team capability through shared-services arrangements, the particulars of which are rarely driven by the brand. Supply chain, manufacturing, customer service and finance, for example, are often provided to the team members as part of corporate shared services.

Create cross-functional teams to meet company-specific conditions and create responsive teams.

Core team members serve as critical points of contact with the extended team members and sub-teams. It is typically the responsibility of the core team members to lead sub-teams and direct activities of extended team members in order to accomplish agreed-upon objectives within their respective work streams. One partner who leads a cross-functional brand team said it was important to “Meet with regulatory people in advance of meetings. Get on the same page with them. Make sure they approve of the path you want to take. Having their guidance before making plans saves you from conflicts later and avoids wasted work.”

Several respondents underscored the importance of the collaboration between sales and marketing. While brand management involves a complex system of partnerships, companies must set clear lines of accountability and responsibility – so that “Who signs off on what?” and “What requires the marketing director’s approval?” or “What requires MD level or board approval?” has been previously agreed upon and understood.

Establishing accountability guidelines provides the company with objective means to assess the actions of various team members and leaders. A lack of clarity allows political tension to fester in cases where junior staff cannot move issues forward without senior sign-off, and a blurred view regarding accountability can arise when brand decisions are abdicated or deferred to countless committees with no timeline for a decision.

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