About Brand Ambassador Programs
“Brand ambassador is a marketing term for a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services within the activity known as branding. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics.
The key element of brand ambassadors lies in their ability to use promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product/service relationship and influence a large audience to buy and consume more. Predominantly, a brand ambassador is known as a positive spokesperson appointed as an internal or external agent to boost product/service sales and create brand awareness.”
Non-profits like World Vision and corporations like Lululemon have brand ambassador programs, each with their own objectives.
Objectives of a brand ambassador program can include:
- recognize and thank most loyal advocates
- enable them to take part in shaping the organization
- empower them to inspire others
- build brand awareness
- develop more content for social channels
- raise funds
OIC would need to consider what the objectives of our brand ambassador program would be, and how to best manage the program to provide benefits for both OIC and for the brand ambassadors.
Information on brand ambassador programs:
– “How to Train Brand Ambassadors for Your Non-profit,” SteamFeed.
– “Starting a Brand Ambassador Program from Scratch the Lululemon Way,” lonelybrand.
– “Tips for Launching a Successful Brand Ambassador Program”, SproutSocial.
– “10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program,” Mack Collier.
Objectives of other brand ambassador programs
Companies successfully implementing brand ambassador programs include: Lyft, Google and Uber. Objectives of these lucrative ambassador programs are to gain customers, gain loyalty and gain employees. They want “to get the word out about their company, recommend its services, and foster brand awareness” as well as build a sense of community (“Why you need a brand ambassador program (and 4 companies that are doing it right)”).
Lyft’s objective is to gain loyal ambassadors by making their recruitment process easy. They have simplified the recruitment process by having information about the company’s goals and culture in one location where benefits of the ambassador program are clearly outlined. Streamlining website information, so all ambassador application information including: responsibilities, benefits to OIC and benefits to the ambassador are in one place, will make recruitment more productive.
Google has gained employees, loyal ambassadors and customers through their “Google Pizza Program.” This program has helped promote their brand to students emerging in the computer science field and helped gain loyal and informed employees. The program consists of ambassadors buying pizza for undergraduate computer science students for final exam study sessions. Students then associate Google with a savoir in a time of stress. For OIC, it could be advantageous to target potential ambassadors in a similar fashion by creating promotions for speech therapy students or students in a closely related field.
Uber’s primary objective is to create a sense of community. Ambassadors are encouraged to make connections with community members and potential customers. In return, ambassadors receive swag and company perks including access to new information about company programs.
Benefits of the ambassador to the organization
A strong brand ambassador program helps a company or organization, “increase its product lines with ease, thrive during economic downturns, gain leverage in partnerships, and attract the best talent.” (Three Steps for Transforming Employees into Brand Ambassadors). Brand ambassadors are like well-informed employees; they know both the brand and the customers well. They help grow potential support from donors, volunteers and other contributors by sharing brand information and helping employees answer inquiries about the organization (5 Reasons You Need a Brand Ambassador).
Brand ambassadors help humanize the organization and keep brand loyalty strong in times of controversy. Often through credible word of mouth branding, they communicate, “what their brand represents, what their company stands for, and what makes it different from every other company” (12 Reasons You Need Brand Ambassadors Now). Ambassadors help influence the recruitment and retention of supporters as “when people hear something positive about a brand, 66% of them assign a high credibility rating to it” (12 Reasons You Need Brand Ambassadors Now).
Brand ambassadors engage supporters by exposing brand information to their own social circles which creates more exposure of the brand. People connected with the brand ambassador, people who otherwise would not have a connection to the brand, are more likely to support the company’s brand because they already like and trust the brand ambassador. Research shows “only 33% of consumers said they trust paid advertisements, 92% trust peer recommendations,” so having brand ambassadors connect friends with the brand will contribute to the organization’s success.
Benefits the ambassador receives
It’s essential for organizations to understand their ambassadors’ motivations to adequately compensate them for their promotion of the brand. Knowing what will make a brand ambassador happy and keep them invested in the brand is necessary for brand ambassador program success.
While some ambassadors are motivated by receiving “perks, swag, discounts, free products, trips, cash or gift cards,” many brand ambassadors are satisfied with the benefit of being informed about the organization (12 Reasons You Need Brand Ambassadors Now). Many ambassadors “are motivated by intrinsic factors like personal growth, working for a common purpose, and being part of a larger process, rather than pay and benefits.” (Three Steps for Transforming Employees into Brand Ambassadors). Being informed about the organization and having inside knowledge about upcoming company changes or events allows ambassadors to earn a level of prestige. This prestige translates into increased respect from peers and contributes to ambassadors’ emotional satisfaction, improving their well-being.
Increasing brand ambassadors’ sense of belonging will be emotionally beneficial. An executive team’s investment in ambassadors’ personal growth and development will cause ambassadors to feel as though they are part of the brand. Acknowledgement of the contribution and sacrifice ambassadors make and articulating how necessary they are for company success increases emotional connectedness. Recognition and praise can be administered in a supporter newsletter, writing an annual thank you letter or tweaking current communications to include more personal information about the ambassadors (Charities need to develop ‘Brand Ambassadors’). Public recognition for achievements in company fundraising competitions and public sharing of contributions and accomplishments can also further a sense of belonging, making ambassadors feel appreciated and valued. Showing appreciation, cherishing and praising ambassadors will not only contribute to ambassadors’ emotional satisfaction but will likely cause ambassadors to always support the organization and brand. This emotional satisfaction and ambassador loyalty will help increase an organization’s revenue, increase productivity, increase referrals and improve a company’s reputation (12 Reasons You Need Brand Ambassadors Now).
Ambassadors benefit when assigned more responsibility and when given exclusive access to the brand. Rewarding ambassadors with power and ability to influence company decisions will build personal confidence. For example, asking for the brand ambassadors’ opinions in an in house focus groups or hosting ambassador collaboration sessions can help contribute to the ambassadors’ connection with the organization, build a sense of community and therefore increase brand loyalty. Knowing they are invited to attend exclusive events will make ambassadors feel important and special. Rewarding ambassadors with job offers also is beneficial and shows that hard work and loyalty within the organization is rewarded (The 5 Most Common Internal Motivators for Your Brand Ambassadors).
Selection process and application process for ambassadors
When beginning the recruitment process for a brand ambassador program it essential to “make brand ambassador openings easy for interested candidates to apply” Why you need a brand ambassador program (and 4 companies that are doing it right). Ease in the application process where expectations, brand information and goals are clearly outlined will contribute to a successful brand ambassador relationship.
Ambassadors need to be a real person. Potential supporters can relate to and trust people they know. Research shows that celebrity ambassadors are no longer successful long term ambassadors. A brand ambassador must have “an authentic connection and love for the brand. This person talks about the brand regularly to their own online and offline following” (A Killer Strategy Using Bloggers as Brand Ambassadors: A Detailed Look with Bulu Box – The Outreach Marketer).
When choosing brand ambassadors it is vital that they are “thoroughly engaged, connected and committed” (Three Steps For Transforming Employees Into Brand Ambassadors). Successful ambassadors have a love for the cause, an excitement and enthusiasm to contribute to the brand and a want to share their knowledge with their peers (Happy Place Marketing). It is advantageous to look to current donors, volunteers and current supporters as well as current employees who already have an enthusiasm, understanding and connection to the brand. For example, Google has an amazing employee satisfaction rate making their employees some of their best ambassadors (8 Essentials of Creating a Sustainable Advocacy Program).
Brand ambassadors that are aware of their own personal strengths and are able to communicate and integrate those strengths into the organization will increase the organization’s success (Three Steps for Transforming Employees into Brand Ambassadors). Having tools for recruits to learn about their own strengths will help determine if their skills will be a good match for the organization (8 Essentials of Creating a Sustainable Advocacy Program).
Gamification is another successful recruiting tool that helps potential recruits stay interested and excited about the organization. Gamification helps cultivate loyalty and allows networking opportunities within the organization and among potential ambassadors.