Employees are Brand Ambassadors
The phrase “brand ambassador” is no longer limited to individuals in official positions as company marketing representatives. Everyone in the organization is a brand ambassador. Effectiveness in this role depends on several factors, many of which can be influenced by the employer. Employees throughout all levels can be excellent brand ambassadors. Consider the number of employees that are very close to how products and services are created and provided. They often have a “behind the scenes” perspective of how and why operations occur. Employees at all levels are brand ambassadors. Organizations miss opportunities to engage employees and grow brand equity if they only consider higher level employees or employees with external engagement as part of their responsibilities to be their brand ambassadors.
Every external interaction is an opportunity to build or detract from the brand. This includes professional and personal interactions. Employees may coach sports or participate in local service clubs interacting with other professionals in the community. Visits to physicians and children’s programs are opportunities for interactions and for employees to be asked about the organization. Their responses depend upon how engaged and informed they are—both of which are dependent upon the employer. Every touch point is an opportunity to build the brand. Organizations position themselves to benefit if they provide training to employees so they better understand the organization’s products or services.
Employee engagement begins with day one. Employees are typically given an in depth introduction to the organization as part of their orientation. This introduction is the perfect opportunity to make them aware of the importance of their role as brand ambassadors and how being a brand ambassador relates to their expected level of job knowledge. Organizations and employees benefit from all employees receiving consistent information. Business unit retreats are ideal opportunities to reintroduce key initiatives and ensure employees have an in depth understanding of the benefits associated with the organization’s product or service offerings. Additionally, training for managers can include how to develop employees as brand ambassadors.
Brand ambassador training at the most basic level involves ensuring employees understand the organization’s product and service offerings, its’ history, and competition. More in depth and comprehensive training involves developing an understanding of where products are in their life cycle and the strategies being used to extract value from them. For a service provider training could involve discussion about how the industry is evolving and how the organization will respond to competitors. Additionally, employees should understand the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
With communication and involvement at the very essence of many employee engagement strategies, employers that are not engaging their employees and recognizing them as brand ambassadors are essentially missing opportunities. In today’s business climate that can involve substantial opportunity costs. Savvy, competitive organizations examine operations and exploit opportunities to enhance the customer experience and build their brands. Employees are brand ambassadors and with consistent engagement, information, and guidance they are positioned to add value beyond typical expectations.