Marketing and politics have much in common – for instance, they both have ambassadors. What is a brand ambassador and why should you care? Read on to find out.
Today’s marketing, branding, and promotion aren’t the same they were, let’s say, forty, thirty or even fifteen years ago. As the great Bob Dylan put it, the times they are a-changing – sit back and watch the old way of marketing and promoting going down the tubes as the new approaches emerge.
One of such approaches is having a brand ambassador for your business or brand. In this article, we’ll talk about brand ambassadors and try to answer the following questions:
- What is a brand ambassador?
- What do brand ambassadors do?
- Where did they come from?
- Why should my business and I care about brand ambassadors?
- Who will win the next UEFA World Cup? (okay, maybe we’ll leave this one without an answer 🙂 )
You will find out:
- What brand ambassadors can give your business
- What makes a great brand ambassador
Enough of that chit-chat, time to learn something new!
A Quick Look Back at the History of Marketing and Branding
Branding has been around for longer than you can imagine. I’d say, branding appeared around the time when our ancestors had first started producing something not for themselves but rather for someone else – they called it trade!
When you cook meat, make a blanket out of the mammoth skin, or sharpen a piece of wood for hunting, your goal is surviving. Rarely you think about putting your skills to some other purpose.
But when humanity had gotten past the point of survival and realized that cooperating and trading led to a better quality of life, people started to make things and do things not just for themselves but for anyone who was willing to engage in a mutually beneficial exchange (remember, there was no money back then).
So, try to imagine yourself sitting in a cave with your woman and kids around you. Nature has blessed you with a gift of hunting. This month you have killed 35 wild animals which is more than you need for yourself and your family. Whaddya do?
Right, go out to your other tribe members and offer them some meat and skins. Or, better yet, offer them your hunting services – next time you will go out and kill prey for them in exchange for a better, more spacious cave. Or, better yet, you can walk a few miles to that other tribe and offer THEM your hunting services in exchange for, let’s say, five fertile women. Hey, come on, it’s just a fantasy 😉
Guess, what happens next? If you are not going to get killed, your tribe members will keep coming back to you for more hunting services. So will those other tribe members. But that’s not it – if they ever happen to meet a tribe that’s passing by, they are most likely to mention you in their conversation saying how good you are at hunting. And so on.
That was a perfect example of branding. That’s how a man had branded himself and became his own brand ambassador – they just didn’t have these words back then! Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
Now, what is a brand ambassador?
What is a Brand Ambassador? Definition
According to a popular definition, which I agree with, a brand ambassador is:
a person who is hired by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so help to increase brand awareness and sales.
Now, don’t let this fool you – it is possible to be your own brand ambassador. It just happens that way that we are rarely able to represent our own brands strong enough. Plus, there are those “popularity,” “integrity,” and “community respect” things that most small business owners lack.
So, from now on, we’ll talk about a brand ambassador as a person who is not a part of your business.
What Do Brand Ambassadors Do?
In short, brand ambassadors embody your business – its culture, spirit, and essence. A quick test – close your eyes and answer this question: if your business were a famous person living now, who would it be? Just don’t say “Taylor Swift,” pleeeeease.
Got it? That’s what it’s all about – putting something intangible (product, price, design, etc) into a very tangible form of a human being.
Brand ambassadors are people, who like your brand. No, it’s more – they LOVE your brand and everything connected with it. They use it all the time and it’s like an extension of themselves to the part where they become inseparable.
And it’s even more. Brand ambassadors are not spokespeople. They’re willing to support and endorse your brand independent of your paying them + they display genuine interest which doesn’t end with the contract.
Tiger Woods, a renowned American golf player, and Leonardo DiCaprio (well, you know who he is, don’t you?) have been Tag Heuer (Swiss watch brand) ambassadors for many years. And boy, do they get paid a lot!
Cristiano Ronaldo, a European and global football star, endorses Nike, the sportswear company.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is a brand ambassador for Fender guitars. Some say it’s because they have a deal, others say it’s because he wrote some of the greatest Stones’ tunes while strumming on the guitar that he loved most and that guitar happened to be Fender. Go figure.
The truth is that brand ambassadors aren’t just endorsers. Endorsement comes from the contract terms and conditions while ambassadorship is expected to more of a lifestyle choice.
Why Are Brand Ambassadors Important?
Post-millennials are starting to come of age and they are the FUTURE. Not us, generation X, and even not generation Y (those who were born in the 1980s and early 1990s). What’s so special about these post-millennials:
- they don’t know what it’s like to live without the Internet, social networks, cloud storage, and YouTube – they have grown up with these at hands
- they have been using smartphones since early childhood and cannot imagine spending a minute without them
- they rarely use PCs in favor of mobile phones, tablets, or laptops
- they have very short attention span
- they are almost immune to the «common» ways of advertising such as TV ads, print ads, billboards, or Internet banners, no matter how targeted and/or creative they are
- they spend up to six hours a day on their smartphones, primarily on social networks (source)
And guess what? These people are the ones you should be looking at – sooner or later, they will become your target audience (if they haven’t already).
Do you think you can get your advertising message across by showing banners to THESE people (post-millennials, Generation Z)? Something tells me that it won’t quite work that way.
Still, there is a way to reach out to the people of «digital era» out there. Considering the fact they get ALL their information, form their opinions, and pattern their behavior after famous people on social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), you would want to try to catch them there.
Give your potential clients an idea to follow, a pattern to reproduce, a new, interesting flick worthy of their attention. They would be happy to embrace it even if it means going out and getting your product – which is exactly what you need.
What Makes a Great Brand Ambassador?
Being a brand ambassador isn’t exactly a job but it has its duties and responsibilities. Here are five things that a great brand ambassador ought to have.
1. Natural Admiration for a Particular Brand
You can’t make if you fake it. True passion is not something you can act out, and people feel it. There’s nothing worse than being labeled as «poseur».
If a person is genuinely happy with your product, you can approach him or her with brand ambassadorship but not the other way around.
2. A Well-Established Online and/or Media Presence
That’s quite obvious – your goal is to make an impact, and it’s impossible without having an audience to speak to.
The actual size depends on the business – for your small business, a local blogger with 50,000 followers may suffice. For a company like Coca-Cola, even Selena Gomez with millions of followers isn’t huge enough.
3. Leadership Stance and Authority
It’s one thing to have many people who follow you. Respect and authority, however, don’t come off that easy.
When people repeat, repost, and share every line that you drop, you know you’re a great potential brand ambassador.
4. Outgoing Personality and Great Communication Skills
Obviously, people would want to ask questions and the ambassador’s job is to answer them. Moreover, brand ambassadors should seek opportunities to reach out to new audiences themselves.
5. Creativity and Wit
Ah, those things. People like something that’s out of the ordinary. Being creative and witty is a good way to go for a brand ambassador.
We’ve had a lecture (or was it an article?) on brand ambassadors: who they are, what they do, and why they are so important.
The right thing to do would be share this article with your friends on the social networks – just click on one of the icons of social media, it’s that easy.
If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.
I hope you dig this piece – if you want some more on marketing and branding, check out these articles too: