A brand ambassador is an important asset for any business that wishes to grow brand awareness, build a loyal customer base, and increase sales.
Typically used by consumer businesses, brand ambassadors are now playing a vital role for B2B brands too.
This has become more relevant than ever before, as the world becomes increasingly digitised, and more people are turning to their social media channels to find out what their friends, family and colleagues are recommending.
This article outlines everything you need to know about brand ambassadors and how they can help a brand to succeed.
The Meaning of a Brand Ambassador
The definition of a brand ambassador is somebody who is hired in order to represent and promote a particular brand, with the aim of building brand awareness and boosting sales. In essence, the brand ambassador acts as the ‘face’ of the brand.
Other names for this role might include brand representative, brand influencer, or corporate ambassador. Under any of these titles, the ambassador will be representing a company’s products or services, with the goal of creating and maintaining a brand identity. Celebrities and other well-known personalities are still frequently employed as brand ambassadors (just look at the beauty products industry), and are most typically used by B2C businesses.
In addition to paid brand ambassadors who are hired for this specific role, there is another type of ambassador: those who are simply big fans of the brand, and choose to promote it for free. Brands may ‘pay’ these fans with freebies or online engagement in exchange for the endorsements.
For businesses that sell to other businesses, meanwhile, a brand ambassador is usually an employee of that organisation. In the past, notable ambassadors for B2B businesses have tended to be founders and executives (think Elon Musk of Tesla).
What Does a Brand Ambassador Do?
A brand ambassador’s primary role is to use their promotional strategies to influence a large audience, strengthening the relationship between a brand and its demographics and encouraging leads and sales.
In order to effectively do this, a brand ambassador is likely to have an established following, network or relationships (usually on social media platforms), and will have built up their own identifiable brand to their followers, which should represent the brand’s target audience. As the ‘face’ of the brand, they are responsible for maintaining their reputation in accordance with the values of the brand during the time of partnership.
A brand ambassador is responsible for maintaining a consistent presence across their different channels - regularly posting photos and written blog or caption content - as well as ideally attending product launches or other events to represent the brand. In this way, brand ambassadors should be excellent communicators, and have a natural ability to network professionally.
In summary, a brand ambassador should be able to assist the brand with:
Positively representing the brand in a variety of settings, both through actions and appearance (e.g. performing product demonstrations or giving away sample products) Creating content (e.g. blogs, posts, reviews or product promotion) Using positive reinforcement, via word of mouth marketing, to generate brand awareness (i.e. referring friends, talking about the brand etc) Promoting the brand on social media channels Getting involved with marketing events (e.g.demonstrations and launches) Being an opinion leader and able to offer expert advise on products or services Communicating with customers on product feedback and passing on recommendations
How a Brand Ambassador Works
The power of suggestion is an amazing phenomenon. It is a phrase to describe how people take ideas given to them and turn those ideas into a reality, and research has shown that deliberate suggestion can influence people on which products they prefer, and how they respond to supplements and medicines (which accounts for the well-known ‘placebo effect’).
While suggestion is important, the quality of a source means we respect some recommendations more than we do others. In a survey, 83% of respondents reported that they are more convinced by recommendations made to them by people they trust than those made via traditional advertising. Unsurprisingly, people respond best to people, not faceless business entities or corporate logos. Customers want to know who they’re dealing with - and never more so than in today’s social media connected world, where people are more interested in personal authenticity.
This is why more brands are choosing to utilise brand ambassadors over the traditional forms of advertising. It helps the brand to create a real human connection with the public, giving the company a face and a personality.
What to Expect From a Brand Ambassador
When it comes to working with a brand ambassador, there are a few things that a company should be able to expect, in return for a fee.
First and foremost, the brand ambassador should embody the corporate identity of the company in all aspects, whether that’s appearance, values, ethics or demeanour.
Of course, not all brand ambassadors are created equal. If you decide to appoint an ambassador, it’s important to ensure that the person selected to be the face and voice of your company isn’t spreading the wrong messages, or giving a bad impression. This is where media training can help. Even if your ambassador has experience in the public eye, media training can help them to prepare for key questions, anticipate interview traps, and be able to give a polished presentation that focuses on a clear message.
Even if your brand ambassador doesn’t require media training, they will need to be drilled in your key messages, to ensure that they pass these on to the public. Ideally, they will internalise a set of clear points, and avoid rambling off-topic for too long. Media training will help your ambassador get to the heart of what you really want to say, and make sure your message comes across loud and clear in their public appearances.
Before you book a brand ambassador, ensure you know if they have done any other broadcast outreach in the last 3-6 months for themselves or for any other brands. It is important to understand the implications of working with previous (possibly competitor) brands and what that might mean for your campaign. Once confirmed, ensure the ambassador is happy to have an element of flexibility in their time to enable you to make the most of every opportunity.
The Benefits of a Brand Ambassador
Good brand ambassadors will provide your business with many benefits: boosting your brand on social media, spreading positive messages, and influencing consumer sales. The most effective ambassadors will also provide some level of customer service, and act as an informal spokesperson.
An ideal brand ambassador should:
Improve your brand’s reputation - in case of bad PR, brand ambassadors will help to defend the brand against any defamatory statements or accusations (within reason). They will also be able to provide their own first-hand positive experiences to counteract any negativity.
Humanise the brand - as mentioned above, most people prefer to buy from people rather than a faceless brand. In companies that run a sizeable ambassador programme, these people can even replace a sales and marketing team without necessarily being paid.
Publicise to new networks - brand ambassadors tend to have a following that trusts what they say, meaning that brands have a golden opportunity to tap into an engaged audience across multiple platforms.
Help grow your business - Positive word of mouth is crucial, and a brand ambassador is an ideal way to generate it. By encouraging new people to try your product or service, you’ll generate buzz, and build a more positive public image for your brand.
Increase website traffic - most brand ambassadors have a blog or website of their own. However, if brought on board, they can easily provide backlinks and referrals to your website. This is a great way to increase inbound traffic, and be able to reach potential customers outside of your usual channels.
Important Characteristics of a Brand Ambassador
In order to come across in a professional and friendly manner, there are a few characteristics that a brand ambassador should have:
An understanding of marketing - whilst a marketing qualification wouldn’t go amiss, the experience of ambassadors can be equally as valuable. Either way, it’s important that your brand ambassador has an appreciation for how the marketing mix works, and how to most efficiently support the brand.
Trustworthiness - brand ambassadors are responsible for creating a strong and lasting relationship between the company and audience. As customer loyalty is important for a large percentage of sales, ambassadors need to have a passion for your product and brand, but also for people and building relationships. Maintaining strong and trustworthy relationships with people will help you to build a wide customer base, while creating a lasting brand identity that drives sales. Ultimately, both consumers and brands are looking for lasting relationships built on trust and consistency. A brand ambassador should support this ideal, and act as a mediator for achieving that goal.
Passion - brand ambassadors need to show a true passion for the products and services that they are endorsing. Successful branding relies on a believable display of enthusiasm, which aims to influence the purchasing patterns of their following.
Professionalism - a brand ambassador needs to represent the company’s values and ideals. Any interactions with the public need to be an authentic and professional reflection of the brand, in order to ensure a positive experience for customers.
An online presence - as discussed, online platforms are an important way to promote and maintain product awareness. As agents of word-of-mouth marketing, brand ambassadors must be available to consumers and their community of followers on a consistent basis to help reiterate your message.
Celebrity Endorsers as Brand Ambassadors
Partnering with a celebrity, TV personality or influencer can make a huge difference to B2C brands looking to reach new audiences. The concept of celebrity partnerships is a tried and tested way to increase brand awareness, and to connect with particular groups of people via a well-known name.
There are a variety of ways in which brands can work with celebrities, whether that’s through direct endorsement, broadcast PR campaigns, or the more subtle methods of influencer marketing.
As well as acting as an impartial voice for broadcasters, celebrities have a unique ability to spark enthusiasm in an audience - and, of course, come with a contingent of their own fans who are likely to tune in.
The ideal celebrity or influencer partnership may not always involve the biggest name, either. Their personal ethos, what they are known for, their personality and expertise - these factors all play into whether a celebrity ambassador will suit your business. The audience they are connected with and the levels of engagement they enjoy are also vital factors. An A-lister may have massive numbers, but if their audience is indifferent to your messaging, they could have half the impact of a smaller and more active personality.
How Much Can a Brand Ambassador Earn?
The amount of money that a brand ambassador can earn varies greatly, and depends on a number of different factors. Most brand ambassadors will have control over their own working hours - though they may be requested to work after hours and on weekends - and fees will vary from one company to another.
Most will earn money in one of three ways:
Hourly: When attending product launches or promotions, it is typical for brand ambassadors to be paid according to their time commitment.
Commission: In some instances, a company will pay their brand ambassador on a commission based structure, to incentive the distribution of information. They may be paid according to how many leads and new customers they secure, or based on website traffic leading from their social media platforms.
Salary: Depending on job responsibilities, qualifications, time commitments and contract stipulations, the salary for a brand ambassador can run anywhere from around £20,000 all the way up to a seven figure number.
Examples of Brand Ambassadors
In some cases, these brand ambassadors can actually help to define a brand. Here are some brands that nearly everyone will immediately associate with its brand ambassador:
Walkers crisps - Gary Linekar Nespresso coffee - George Clooney Cillit Bang - Barry Scott EE - Kevin Bacon Sauvage - Johnny Depp Direct Line - Harvey Keitel George Foreman Grill - George Foreman**
Ultimately, without the personal connection and trust that comes from having a good brand ambassador as the figurehead for your business, it’s hard for the public to know who you are, or exactly what you stand for.
It’s no longer enough for an organisation to be a faceless entity with a corporate logo, especially in the current climate. Brand ambassadors play a huge role in growing brand awareness, and conferring legitimacy and trustworthiness on a brand that may struggle to do so otherwise. If a popular celebrity begins working with a brand, fans are likely to trust their judgement and, in this way, some of the ambassador’s credibility is passed along.
When a big name becomes attached to a smaller brand, such as a medicine or insurance company, the public becomes aware of the brand because of that person. Once a brand has an established identity, it becomes harder to change its reputation by simply hiring an ambassador - this is where other PR and marketing tactics come into play.