The 5 Critical Steps Most Brand Ambassadorship Efforts Miss
Whether it’s a race to market, or the marathon of keeping market share, companies invest money and time in branding, rebranding, and updating their brand to elevate their position and distinguish themselves from competitors. Unfortunately, most firms throw the race in the final laps, stopping just shy of the finish line.
The companies who see a good brand initiative to the finish line recognize that it’s not just websites and social media, but human communication that most effectively extends the brand into the communities they serve. This is particularly important for professional service firms who can’t sell their services without selling the people who deliver them.
Crossing the Finish Line with Brand Ambassadorship
You’ve unveiled the new logo, passed out new business cards, launched a new website, announced your new social media campaign…and ironically, this is when the critical work begins, and sadly when most firms return to business as usual.
Many organizations go through the brand transition without bringing along the lifeblood of a firm–its people. If the people who work for the organization don’t know what to do with the new brand, the effort won’t get any traction.
As crucial as it is to educate people about your branding initiatives, true brand ambassadorship is not achieved solely by imparting knowledge. Your firm needs to engage everyone in your brand–walking it, talking it, living it, embodying it, presenting it, sharing it, and educating the world with it.
This takes some real skill-building and professional development.
Orchestrating Brand Ambassadorship
Think of your people like an orchestra. Typical brand ambassadorship programs are akin to simply handing out sheet music to each member and assuming that’s all they need to play their part.
You can’t capture brand or music just by learning about it, listening to it, or thinking deeply about it. Brands come to life through human communication, much as music comes to life through playing it.
Of course, any conductor knows that you can’t just pull people off the street and expect them to play an instrument with perfect pitch. They have to learn to play and want to play in the first place. That’s what motivates practice.
An effective brand ambassadorship program designs a learning and development plan to develop genuine brand advocates with five important steps:
Teach the brand (that’s the part you’re probably doing already).
Inspire the team to care.
Teach them the basic skills.
Model the skills and the commitment to brand at the leadership level.
Let’s look at each one:
1 Teach the Brand–Going Beyond Talking Points
As seemingly straightforward as this step is, most companies get it wrong. They provide good information about the brand, but they fail to get to the “conceptual communication” of the brand.
Instead of writing copy for your members to memorize and recite, teach them to understand who the company helps. What problems do they face? How do we uniquely help them? Where does that take them?
Teaching the brand conceptually frees people to align themselves with the principles of the brand while speaking with their own words.
2 Inspire the Team to Care about Brand Ambassadorship
People want to know what the company expects of them and this often requires some inspiration. You want people to understand what your brand stands for and how they can reflect the values of your organization—helpfulness, integrity, caring—as they build relationships and work with clients. The good news for everyone is that these actions are often as good for your team members as individual professionals as they are for your firm.
Individually, embodying the brand allows your team members to get more of the kind of work they love, shape the career they want, and demonstrate the business development skills that aid their career climb above and beyond simply doing good work.
3 Teach the Basic Skills of Advocating for Your Brand
The basic skills of brand advocacy are easy to list, but it’s essential to make sure your team has them. By universally teaching a common skillset, you ensure everyone in your orchestra is in tune and playing from the same song sheet. The skillset includes:
Value Propositioning (VP)—defining and explaining how you add value
Networking—making the most of new connections and the VP
Public Speaking—increasing your visibility in the community
Business Development Conversations—knowing how to culture an opportunity
Customer Experience—living the brand experience in every interaction
4 Model the Skills of Brand Advocacy
Communication patterns start at the top with executive leadership and flow through to frontline positions. This is why it’s crucial to get commitment to from the top to model the behaviors they want to see everyone else doing. Leadership better be using the same approach its expecting the team to use. The team will be watching and doing what they see if leaders doing.
Leaders need to display brand advocacy in their daily lives and talk about why it matters. Teach it. Inspire people to care. Build the same skills you are asking others to build.
5 Maintain Momentum
Avoiding the slide back into the status quo, an effective brand advocacy plan sets up regular meetings, events, and systems to keep brand commitment on the radar, and in active practice.
Momentum has to be firm wide, from top to bottom. Everyone needs to be involved, engaged, and holding each other accountable.
By employing these five brand ambassadorship best practices, you will help equip everyone in you firm to be strong and confident representatives of your brand, taking brand ambassadorship across the finish line from conceptual idea to an embedded strategy that is deeply rooted within your organization.
That is how you educate the world as to how and when to think of you first.
For more information on brand ambassadorship, please download our white paper: The Brains and Business of Brand Ambassadors: Bringing Your Value Proposition to Life Through Your Entire Team or contact SagePresence.