A Brand Ambassador (sometimes also called a Corporate Ambassador) is a person who is hired by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so helps to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics. The key element of brand ambassadors is 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, an opinion leader or a community influencer, appointed as an internal or external agent to boost product or service sales and create brand awareness. Today, brand ambassador as a term has expanded beyond celebrity branding to self-branding or personal brand management. Professional figures such as good-will and non-profit ambassadors, promotional models, testimonials and brand advocates have formed as an extension of the same concept, taking into account the requirements of every company.
The Brand Ambassador's Role in Marketing Strategy
Brand ambassadors can play a major role in marketing strategy. And when a program works well, it can just about take over the strategy as a whole. Here's a brief summary of the ambassador's primary responsibilities:
- Acts as a Spokesperson (But Not Really): Some companies hire professional brand ambassadors, which are really just glorified spokespeople. And while part of the ambassador's job is to act as a spokesperson, there is more to it than that. A good ambassador gets the word out about a product or service while still being a member of the target audience.
- Offers a Chance to Connect Directly With Potential Customers: Brand advocates are down on the ground with customers and can engage with them one-on-one. And while some adherence to a set of brand guidelines is essential, the majority of the conversations can be informal and authentic.
- Works as a Social Media Power User: Some brand ambassadors spread the word about a company face-to-face at events, but more often than not the day-to-day work of ambassador programs happens online. And more specifically, it happens on social media. Advocates must be well-versed in all the major social networks if they're going to be effective at promoting your business.
The Importance of Brand Ambassadors
We can define two types of Brand Ambassadors (aka Brand Advocates).
- The first kind makes famous and recognizable people hired by companies, where all the effort and input of such people is paid. Such cooperation is planned step by step, strictly scheduled and forecasted. In that case, a brand ambassador is expected to be a very well-known individual to either masses or with particular lines of business. Nowadays, brands are focused on bloggers (and YouTubers, Instagrammers) as very often they achieve similar marketing results as the „big names”. They offer space on their blogs, YT and Social Media channels, which turns out to be quite useful.
- The second types of Brand Ambassadors are people who mention or recommend your brand freely. Sure, big names can do the same job, but not in the same way; the most significant difference between is that the former often do it all for free or on a non-cash exchange basis. All they really get is satisfaction from being engaged in the brand. A Long-term relationship with the customer, free extras from the company or excellent customer service can be great incentives. There are many ways to turn a regular customer into a Brand Ambassador. In return, he may become loyal (and write about you once or twice) or extremely loyal (and then they can call you their hero!).
So, are they really that significant? Let’s take a closer look into it. The most difficult thing to overcome in TV advertisement is the fact that it became boring and predictable to the viewer. Their first reaction, most often, is changing the channel as soon as they hear commercial break coming. The result is wasted time, money and resources. What is more, brands that present only their positive aspects are not considered to be reliable (but it is hard to imagine that they would say much of the negative). According to the survey below (see Figure), the greatest effectiveness, 78%, is achieved through recommendations. Here is the power of a Brand Ambassadors. If the audience realizes that the person promoting the brand is not being paid to do that, it is more likely, they will follow the advice. Work great. But remember. Acquisition of loyal brand ambassadors may be tough. It’s some "an award” for a magnificent and hard job.
Now take a look at the "simplest part” of building an image. We live at times when the Internet is creating tremendous opportunities for all marketers. We can make some buzz and (being lucky) hit the nail. With just a small budget, we can reach thousands of people and show them how cool we are. We have websites, social media fan pages, and profiles, where they will first go to check us out. We don’t need tons of gold to be shown in good light. Also, out there, in the virtual world, our Brand Ambassadors live and express their impressions – credits, satisfaction, gratitude, encouraging to try and benefit from using product X. They have immense credibility as their opinions are perceived as being objective. People have no contraindications to following those tips. Especially, if it is the first opinion on the brand, we’re looking for on the Internet. Brand Ambassadors are not only the ones that make people eager to try a particular device. They build an image of your brand in micro- or (if a Brand Ambassador is an influencer – lucky you!) macro scale. How likely is it that an audience would believe a producer’s advertisement and not a real person who recommends it voluntarily?