The 4 Types of Brand Ambassadors
Experiential marketing has made possible some pretty spectacular feats – from Felix Baumgartner’s legendary parachute jump for Red Bull (who could forget it) to the Red Tent-esque “Amele Handbag” experience in Sydney (which PromoPeople itself worked on).
While these feats and thousands more vary drastically in scale, aim and target audience, what they all have in common is the participation of event staff, or brand ambassadors, with the skills to execute the event and the charisma to engage an audience for it.
Brand ambassadors are brand representatives that engage consumers in an event or experience, either first hand or through traditional or social media. They represent your brand’s appearance, demeanor, values and ethics to potential customers, spread brand awareness, and foster brand loyalty.
Brand ambassadors bring experiential marketing alive, but proper staffing is a huge component in the success of any campaign. For some roles – Felix Baumgartner’s, for example – there’s only one person to do the job. Other roles are more flexible, but no less difficult to fill.
Successful staffing is complicated, but let’s start with the basics. There are essentially four types of brand ambassadors:
- The celebrity. The attention and followers that celebrities already attract in real life and on social media make their endorsements an easy (though expensive) way to reach a large consumer audience. Celebrities are trendsetters, so many fans naturally look to them for product recommendations.
Celebrity endorsements are risky when the attachment between the celebrity and brand is superficial. If a celebrity actually doesn’t care about your product, their recommendation isn’t convincing. Remember the time then Yardley Cosmetics spokesperson Helena Bonham Carter said she didn’t wear makeup?
- The expert. If your product is medical, science, sport, or technology related, expert brand ambassadors highlight the credibility of your product. The Sensodyne “Great Sensitivity Test” in London, for example, had dentists introduce consumers to the brand’s new toothpaste.
Brand ambassadors, of whichever type, must be compelling personalities. The pitfall of expert recommendations is that (excluding professional athletes) the general public may perceive experts as dry or pedantic spokespersons.
- The enthusiast. Enthusiasts make excellent brand ambassadors because they genuinely love your product. As a person, they already embody the appearance and demeanor of your brand and, as a satisfied customer, they clearly believe in your brand’s values and product.
You can involve enthusiasts in experiential marketing in two ways. First, as event staff, enthusiasts are effective at spreading excitement and information about your product. Second, as sponsored customers, they help define a “lifestyle” for your brand. Sportswear company PrAna, for example, sponsors athletes and hobbyists to immerse consumers in the “experience” of their sportswear.
- The peer. Peer recommendations are incredibly powerful. Word of mouth is, arguably, the most effective advertising technique. When event staff seem like peers to consumers, brands reap the benefits of both word of mouth and experiential marketing.
Peer brand ambassadors are approachable, friendly, gregarious, and trustworthy. They engage customers personally, building a relationship between each person and your brand. Alongside enthusiasts, peers are the best at building brand loyalty in your customers.