The Overlooked Brand Ambassadors
Brand Ambassadors All Around
Let me ask you a simple question: Does your brand have any brand ambassadors?
If you answered ‘No,’ you might want to rethink that. No matter what size of business you have, you have brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors tend to be viewed by many as only being executives, sales people, marketers, and possibly customer service staff. This is a common misguided understanding of who brand ambassadors are. Brand ambassadors are anypeople who represent your brand, in any capacity. Good or bad they are a part of how people interact with your company. In this article, we’re going to look specifically at internal brand ambassadors. We will go over external brand ambassadors in another article.
Many companies have a belief that the CEO of the company is the face of the company. In many regards, this can be true a statement. However, how many of your customers are dealing with the CEO, president, or any other executive? If you’re a small company, and your customers are dealing with the CEO or other executive, does the customer realize this?
When customers, no matter your business model (B2B, B2C, B2A, etc.), interact with your company, the employee(s) they are dealing with become the physical embodiment of your company. They are the face of your brand at that moment. This creates a problem that brands need to take very seriously.
Now if you answered ‘Yes’ to the original question, do your brand ambassadors know how important they are to your brand? Are your ambassadors aligned with your brand? If you said ‘yes’ to that question, then you might want to think again.
In a Gallop Poll1, it was discovered that 41% (less than half of the U.S. employees) know what differentiates their brand from their competitors. This is a recipe for disaster for any brand. Differentiation, or your competitive advantage, is how you position yourself among your competition. If your employees do not know what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is, how do you expect them to educate your customers?
You need to start implementing a brand ambassador strategy for your brand. There are a few areas to include in your ambassador program that will yield not only a stronger brand, but also alignment.
Ensuring that your ambassadors align with your brand begins the day you hire them. Do the employees align with your brand values? Do they understand and agree with them from the get-go? This means that you do not simply hire based on résumé details alone. When Ron Shaich talks about building his company Au Bon Pain (which later became Panera Bread), he credits the fact that the employees were committed to building the company, not to building their résumé2.
When it comes to employee reviews, incorporate brand alignment into your review process. Define some on-brand and off-brand behaviors and integrate them into the review process. It is vital for each employee to know how they impact the brand and how they can contribute to its success.
Develop internal brand education programs for all employees. Through sharing branding manuals, providing workshops, an intranet, a newsletter, or various other activities you remind your ambassadors of what your brand stands for as well as their role in helping the brand grow and succeed.
Celebrate your Employees
As we’ve discussed, every employee that your customer could possibly interact with is an ambassador. As such, each employee, department, or division should be rewarded when they consistently deliver on your brand’s promise and help maintain what your brand stands for. There are many ways to do this—company-wide retreats, lunches, recognition activities, and more. Each activity allows you to demonstrate your brand’s culture and keep it forefront in your employee’s mind.
Ensure Executive Alignment
Does every person on your executive team understand your brand? All of the other areas won’t matter if there isn’t alignment and understanding from your executive team. If your executive team doesn’t align, how can you possibly expect your employees to be aligned? Does your executive team know how the department(s) they head up affect your brand’s promise and vision? Do they have an active role in defining your positioning and strategy? Are you holding internal workshops to help facilitate your executive team in understanding your brand?
If you’re a one-player team, you might think you don’t have to worry about this. Do you plan to expand your team in the future? Once you start the process of expanding your team you’ll find you’re in the same position as larger companies. Focus on the points discussed above and see which ones can be tailored for you.
Once you increase your brand ambassadors’ understanding and brand education you’ll be able to add an additional layer of brand representation to your customers. Your customers will notice a differentiation that carries down to their interaction as having brand ambassadors help to humanize your brand.
Brand Ambassador: Any person, internal or external, who is passionate and speaks highly of your brand. An ambassador will stand up for your brand and promote its virtues even before the product is available to the masses.
(B2A) Business-To-Administration:These business relationships are between a business and public administration. This area involves things such as social security, employment, legal, financial, and so on.
(B2B) Business-To-Business: Name given to business relationships between companies. This area often involves one business selling services or goods that another business needs to perform their services or offerings.
(B2C) Business-To-Consumer:This deals with relationships between businesses and consumers, who are the end-users of the business’s products.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP):The driving competitive advantage, it is associated with what your brand stands for. Similar to “Value Proposition” and “Brand Promise.”
Brand Promise:The expectation the brand owner has in relation to what the brand must do, is willing to do, and what it will provide their customers.