This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post.
The title of brand ambassador seems to be a popular one these days. Most frequently used for companies who sell products, brand ambassadors are deployed into communities to spread the word, display the product, tweet, Instagram, and hashtag to oblivion. Many companies have brilliantly deployed brand ambassadors. As a relatively active woman, I have always been impressed with the way Lululemon or Nike have created real grass-roots efforts in their efforts to sell $90 leggings!
But brand ambassadors aren’t just for companies selling wares. Anytime someone from an organization interacts with a candidate or a prospective client, they are acting as an ambassador. We “wear” our firm culture in much the same way the Lululemon ambassador would wear the latest styles.
Over time, a lack of “ambassadorship” has a significant impact on the ability of an organization to consistently recruit top talent. Yet, in many organizations, very little time is spent discussing the role of a brand ambassador. Even those companies who encourage their teams to convey the feel of their culture often make a critical misstep; they define too narrow a group of employees to act as ambassadors. For many organizations, this is the talent acquisition, human resources, business development, and marketing staff. Unfortunately, that group likely makes up less than 10% of your organization.
We live in a social proof world. People source reviews and talk to friends of friends who might be connected to the business before making an ultimate decision on accepting a job or signing on as a client.
When potential candidates or clients are deciding whether or not to choose your business over the competition, what are the odds that their only interaction will be with the 10% we identified? By neglecting to utilize a significant portion of your organization as brand ambassadors, you may inadvertently be deploying mixed messages, a muddled view of the culture, and an unclear vision of your business.
Time for some good news. Your army of brand ambassadors is waiting and ready! The people in your organization chose to be there and are likely happy with their choice. They simply need to be activated and empowered to take on this new charge. Before broadening the scope of brand ambassadors in your organization, it is important to ask yourself if you have a cohesive brand and culture for these ambassadors to represent? Be brutally honest about this. If you aren’t sure, the answer is probably no. You want to ensure that everyone who is empowered to speak to and about to organization is on the same page.
- Consider developing a program for new employees outlining the mission, values, and brand you have cultivated.
- Encourage your teams to speak openly and honestly about those values when asked.
- Continue to revisit on a regular basis. Organizations shift and grow much as people do. Who we are today is not likely who we were ten, five, or even two years ago.
- Think about who will consistently deploy this message to new employees.
By empowering the full force of your employees to speak to their community about the strengths of your organization, you will soon realize the power of these secret super-heroes. After all, why should leggings get all the attention!