The Caribbean Producers of Jamaica duo: Tamika West (left), brand manager, Grey Goose and Trishauna Kirlew, brand manager, Patrón. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)
Within the past year, Trishauna Kirlew and Tamika West — brand managers of wines and spirits at Caribbean Producers of Jamaica (CPJ) — have emerged as distinctive faces of the beverage company, working tirelessly to raise the visibility of the CPJ-associated Patrón and Grey Goose brands they represent. Thursday Life sat down (sipping a glass or two for good measure) with the two ladies at the just-concluded Salut! event and got first-hand info on just what the job of a brand manager entails.
The always-gregarious West explained that the main responsibility of a brand manager is “developing marketing awareness and demand for a product, with the end result of it being placed in the hands of your target consumer for repeat consumption.” For the beverage industry, West noted, this means introducing the product to the consumer through sampling, followed by placement in key environments where they would purchase it, such as bars, clubs, restaurants, and retail outlets. From pricing to packaging, one’s role as a brand manager will be to define and maintain the company’s public image through careful brand design and placement. West, who studied economics at the University of Toronto — and at one point managed office supplies — previously worked as a field marketing manager for Red Bull, as well as, alongside brand managers of wines and spirits at Lascelles, which she says gave her much insight. She cites one of the demands of the job as the extra hours, coupled with the need to be on-call for last-minute occasions. “There are times when there is so much to do that there is little time to rest. However, it is important to make time to wind down, because sometimes that’s when the best ideas come,” West shared.
For Kirlew — West’s managerial counterpart — her tertiary studies provided a solid preparation for the job. Kirlew, who studied marketing and international business at the University of Technology (UTech), said on her path towards becoming a brand manager, a good education, as well as on-the-job experience, have worked hand in hand. “All my courses in school helped me to succeed in my current role. Advertising, distribution, global marketing to name a few; every now and then I still pick up an old textbook to refresh my memory,” she told Thursday Life. Still, her present role did not just fall in her lap. Kirlew, in fact, worked as a brand associate for two years with Lascelles Wines and Spirits, working her way up the ladder. Both brand managers agree that one of the biggest challenges in their role is rest. “In the same breath, a brand manager can never be bored in his position. You’re always challenging yourself to supersede the last project and to be more creative,” she continued. For Kirlew, brand management has the ability to catapult one into places they have never dreamed of. “This, however, takes a certain level of dedication and selflessness that one has to strive to sustain.”
Thursday Life shares Kirlew’s and West’s five steps in becoming a brand manager:
- Get an education — a business or marketing degree will always be beneficial.
- Enroll in public speaking classes.
- Be prepared to earn your stripes, start as a marketing assistant, understudy the role and evolve in the field.
- Always ensure you enjoy what you do — the result is longevity.
- Keep an open mind — a good brand manager can market anything.