How to Build a Brand Ambassador Program
Every organisation wishes to have employees aligned with their brand values, to have a culture, where employees feel motivated, engaged, with a sense of belonging and proactive. Study after study shows that if this is achieved, there will be more profit, growth, development and creativity. If the message is so clear and supporting and the evidence so persuasive, why is it so difficult?
At Live Your Brand, we believe that it is a problem of implementation. Managers may not know how to implement employee brand alignment. How to mobilize employees around this idea, to build momentum through action and to grow and develop this idea to be able to sustain it over time?
To build such a project you need to have agents of change within the organization and a real intention to achieve it. Our workplace is complicated. We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. And, exactly because of this, it is key for the long lasting performance of the company to make sure to take into account the brand’s culture and values and how these are lived within the organization. If we create the culture we desire, performance will be a reflection of this culture.
This is why we need to pause and ask ourselves, what is happening now? What are we trying to pursue and why? What are we trying to achieve, to change? Where are we now?
At Live Your Brand, we’ve drawn from our studies, investigations and projects to create a road map, a process of how to achieve employee brand alignment. Through this process, we answer a number of critical questions: How can you align what your brand communicates externally to what is lived internally? How can you transform all employees into brand ambassadors in a way that your brand’s values and culture speak to the heart of your employees so that all employees find focus, motivation and inspiration through an idea that is greater than their jobs?
The beauty of our concept is that you can start where the organisation currently stands and that once you start, you can continue with other parts of the process. Each phase is equally important and you can build upon and capitalize on what is already there.
The process is not prescriptive. There are not 5 predefined steps to follow so that your employees live your brand, Rather, we define a series of fundamental criteria to be considered.
A Brand Ambassador should:
– Know the brand’s history and its main milestones.
– Be engaged with the brand
– Know how to communicate the brand culture and values.
– Be able to co-create the brand
– Know her personal brand and those of the team members she works with closely.
Let’s now go into detail:
Know the brand’s history and its main milestones.
The past, is a kind of screen upon which we project our vision of the future. Carl Becker
– Here we do not only talk about knowing the company’s history and value but ensuring that these values are recognized in the day-to-day work being done today. It is not about memorizing these values, but that these values are integrated in the organization’s culture, recognized and constantly lived.
– Another very important aspect is to know the purpose of the brand. The why of the brand. Why does this company exist? Why is this company important in our society? What was the fundamental belief on which it was founded? And also, most importantly, how every new product launch or service is a re-interpretation of this purpose. All employees should know this and understand that this ultimate purpose is the one that triggered the foundations of the company and the one that made it grow and become what it is today.
– Own this history and these values. What part of the story is especially important for me and why? Why does the purpose of the brand resonate with me? What attracted me to this company from the beginning? The way we integrate and perceive stories is different depending on each person. And it is extremely important to know and recognize these different appreciations of the brand’s history.
Be engaged with the brand
Organizations have more success with engagement and improve business performance when they treat employees as stakeholders of their own future and the company’s future.
– Once the brand values are clear, every decision that is made has to be consistent with these values. This means, that there has to be a commitment within the entire organisation to take the brand values into consideration in every decision that is made.
– A true brand ambassador is able to get involved and gets involved in central initiatives for the development of the brand such as customer service improvements, training of new employees, serving as a mentor, contributing with new ideas for production, participating in company rituals, etc. Creating spaces and momentum for these initiatives is of extreme importance. Participation rates in these activities are also good indicators of employee engagement with the brand.
– Recognizing and valuing what the organization is doing for the employee’s personal and professional growth. Once we recognize what the brand is doing for us in various aspects of our lives we will be more engaged in developing and making it grow.
– A good way to increase employee engagement is to motivate and incentivize interdepartmental meetings in decision-making processes. Discovering what and how everyone is doing to achieve the brand’s purpose can be an Aha! Moment in recognizing different ways of connecting with the brand. Also, cross-department work allows us to see for ourselves that everyone has a role to play in the brand’s ultimate purpose and recognizing this will ultimately benefit us all.
Know how to communicate the Brand culture and values.
In these times of the internet, social media and interconnectedness, communication is fundamental to mobilize all employees around the same purpose. The way we execute this purpose is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by all employees acting on the information they have and their own self-interest.
– The brand’s values and history should ideally be communicated to internal and external clients in a positive and integrating way. And above all, these need to be defended with solid, valid and timely arguments. Imagine a company launches a certain product that at first sight makes no sense with the company’s purpose and /or values, and the only source of information about this product launch is a Youtube video. If the product development and marketing department do not communicate to me the why’s, how’s and behind the scenes’ reasons for this new product launch I will not be able to defend or sell this product to my clients, colleagues or friends. The way in which each employee communicates the brand in which she works generates an added value to the brand that few marketing campaigns will ever be able to achieve.
– It is also true that the brand’s values and culture are communicated in so many different ways. The way a team leader communicates with her team, how she cooperates with her colleagues, how she relates to her clients, how decisions are made, how employees’ opinions are listened to, how employees are being helped in hard times, etc. The unwritten rules influence how work is done and what is the culture of the organization. For us to understand how culture drives strategy, we must understand the execution.
Be able to co-create the brand
Never underestimate the co-creation power of the people working for an organization. What we can be absolutely sure about, is that people will always support that what they themselves create.
– This means constantly making an effort to align the brand’s values with all the processes in which we actively work for. There are so many daily opportunities to align the processes of the organization and the people working on these processes are the ones that best know all the opportunities for change that might exist.
– How many times are we able to question certain activities or processes in organizations? Creating momentum and opportunities to question the brand’s strategy allows us to better understand them so that we can implement them in the right way. Questioning every day company’s practices and even values will help us co-create the brand.
– What are my personal experiences with the brand? A brand ambassador should be able to share her personal experiences and ideas to improve the brand’s experience. Creating spaces for this is key to continue co-creating the brand in the future. Shared intelligence emerges through communication and collaboration.
Know her personal brand and those of the team members she works with closely.
A brand’s culture will have a long term value if we know and recognize who is building and living the brand. A brand is not something that is far away from us that has no relationship whatsoever with our work. Each employee is a main actor for the growth and development of a brand. It is every person that creates a value for the brand.
– If we want our employees to be brand ambassadors, it is necessary that we know our brand ambassadors. What is what makes them unique and indispensable for our brand? Which are the strengths and talents that every team member has? Do we even know them? And, even more importantly, do we recognize and appreciate these individual and team strengths?
– Do we know how and where employees can develop these strengths? Is there a culture in the organization that promotes the development of character strengths?
Our own experience in Live Your Brand tells us over and over that people want to belong to something larger than themselves and the brand which you work for is a great platform for co-creation, engagement and personal and professional growth. This is our purpose and our reason to exist at Live Your Brand. And for that, we have concentrated our efforts in giving insights and solutions through co-creation, workshops, games and seminars.
Yes. We love our job.