Creating Impact That Drives Success
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Building Brand Ambassadors

brand ambassador

A strong, clear brand is the hallmark of a successful company and can be a lifeline in troubling economic times and a boon in plentiful economies. Yet despite conventional wisdom, strong brands aren’t built by the marketing department alone; every employee in every department has a role to play as a brand ambassador.

A brand ambassador is an individual, internal stakeholder who is thoroughly engaged, connected and committed to a corporate brand and understands their role in supporting and advancing the brand. We define internal stakeholders as anyone who is intimately connected to a brand – an employee, a consultant, employees of a company contracted to provide services for a brand, a vendor, a partner, an investor, and so on.

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer found that “Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder. 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.”

So how can a marketing professionals nurture Brand Ambassadors? They must inform, connect, and empower their internal stakeholders.

1. Building Brand Awareness Internally.
A Gallup poll asked more than 3,000 randomly selected workers to assess their agreement with the statement “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand different from our competitors.” Only 41% of employees strongly agreed with this statement. This statistic indicates that more than half of those surveyed were not fully aware of their company’s brand positioning and differentiation. While this may seem shocking to some, it was not a surprise to Corridor Communications. Our experience with some of the world’s most visible brands proves that little effort is spent on internal brand marketing. How then, can business leaders expect their closest allies to effectively communicate and propagate their brand? Every internal stakeholder must be informed on the brand and provided with training, words, meaning, and behaviors that exemplify the brand. Most important, they must work with role models, leaders who exemplify and live the brand passionately every day.

2. Personal Brand Connections
According to a report by Daniel Cable, Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats published in Administrative Science Quarterly, “…employee socialization should focus on personal, not corporate, identity.” The research showed that employees who were asked questions like “What is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance at work?” showed higher overall brand engagement. Focusing on the individual’s priorities and guiding them in understanding how these can be advanced and met within the corporation leads to authentic engagement and buy-in of all that the brand represents. The same holds true for all internal stakeholders.

3. Empowering Brand Ambassadors
Brand Ambassadors must understand and develop their own personal brand as well as the corporate brand messages. It’s more important that Brand Ambassadors be consistent in their efforts than to conform to a structure that may not be authentic. This approach empowers internal stakeholders and creates Brand Ambassadors that reach a wide breadth of individuals in unique ways. Southwest Airlines has mastered this process. Every employee is a Brand Ambassador, yet they exemplify the brand in a personal manner, whether comedic or serious. Each individual stakeholder must be empowered to deliver on the corporate brand promise in a way that’s authentic, leveraging the corporate identity with what ignites them and makes them exceptional.

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