Once beauty brands get to a certain size and level of success, they often consider appointing a brand ambassador to further support the growth of their brand, sales, and customer base. The brand ambassador role has shifted considerably over recent years in terms of who they are and what they do for brands. Today this type of partnership often taps into the power of influence, celebrity and third-party endorsement and is usually more extensive and far-reaching than a one-off activity or single channel campaign, such as an Instagram post.
Finding the right brand ambassador and creating a successful partnership requires expertise and fantastic industry contacts, major beauty brands often outsource this form of marketing to established PR agencies such as Kendrick PR. In this article, our beauty PR experts share expert guidance on how you can identify and collaborate with brand ambassadors to build rewarding partnerships.
What is a brand ambassador?
Simply put, a brand ambassador is employed by a brand or company to represent that business in a positive light, and by doing so, help to increase brand awareness and sales. This partnership is far-reaching, in that the ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in every aspect – from their appearance, to their behaviour, values and actions. The aim of a successful brand partnership is that the ambassador will provide emotional emphasis, and a memorable “face” associated with that brand or experience – one that resonates with the target customer. Your target customer will aspire to be like the ambassador and emulate their product choices and thereby changing their purchasing decisions accordingly.
The role of a brand ambassador
Brand ambassadors can fulfil a variety of activities over both short and long-term campaigns with a brand, who will use the content created by the ambassador within their PR, marketing and advertising channels. The scope of activities can vary from being the ‘face’ of a new product and helping to promote this among press and the public – to photoshoots, product development, press quotes, advertising campaigns, modelling, wearing the branded goods etc.
The brand ambassador role is nothing new and we see these partnerships every day. For example, A-list celebrities and international sports stars often fulfil megabucks brand ambassador roles and are seen wearing Nike ensembles at Wimbledon, being the face of the latest Omega watch etc. From a beauty perspective, brand ambassadors are featured with everything from hair dye to dietary supplements, and perfume to cosmetic procedures. Ultimately, brands need to find the ambassador that makes their target customer say, “I want to be like them and use / buy / wear what they do.”
What makes a good brand ambassador?
The key to success is finding the right kind of person to be your brand ambassador in the first place. A good brand ambassador will already embody your brand values, look and feel and they will resonate with your target end-customer. This alignment with the brand will be authentic – their life outside of the partnership and campaign will still resonate with what your brand stands for, it should not be limited to their participation in just one activity.
A good brand ambassador will stick to the brief, and take the time to understand what you want to get out of the partnership – providing a flexible and cooperative relationship which can strengthen over time to be even more productive. Strong brand ambassadors will not only have their own legion of loyal fans, followers, and supporters, they may also have their own media channels which can be used to amplify your brand message as well – such as TV shows, podcasts, magazine columns, YouTube channels and social media.
The benefits of working with a good brand ambassador
A strong brand ambassador can have a big impact for a business, they can help to:
- drive brand awareness,
- increase sales,
- provide support and interest for media coverage,
- and ultimately expand the business footprint over time.
The addition of a celebrity or notable brand ambassador to your brand campaigns will be of interest to the press, who will report on the fact that this person is working with your brand – thus expanding your reach even further.
Reputation is everything
The right brand ambassador can also deliver valuable third-party endorsement to your brand or product, leveraging their own reputation and aligning this with your own which can also help to convert their own fans or followers to your product providing your brand with a wider audience to tap into. By pairing a well-known face and personality with your brand, you can automatically deliver key messages at scale about what your brand is all about, and what kind of person your brand represents and attracts, for example, are they successful, sporty, elegant, high-class, thrifty, savvy, beautiful etc?
Brands ambassadors vs influencers
Brand ambassadors have a more long-term and sustainable role compared to influencers, which is reflected in the higher price tag usually associated with a brand ambassador role or partnership.
Influencers are primarily operational on social media and are used by brands for shorter-term campaigns. Brands choose to work with influencers to review, demonstrate, post and showcase their products via videos, IGTV/IGLives, YouTube videos, Instagram grid posts and stories, which have various pricing brackets depending on the reach and authority of the influencer. The influencer is not expected to “embody” the brand per se – there may be short-term exclusivity clauses for their work but generally influencer marketing is more short-term and less tied with the brand.
Brand ambassadors have a deeper relationship with brands, they tend to have longer contracts of at least 6 months to 1 year or more, and will be expected to support multiple campaigns and be “on brand” in both their commercial activities and home life. Think of all the sponsorship and brand deals that have been dropped when a celebrity has had a career scandal or issue in the media – even though they may not be actively in the middle of a campaign or activity, they are meant to represent that brand at all times and if their behaviour goes against the brand image or values, the ties will be severed.
How to find the right brand ambassador
Finding the right brand ambassador is critical to success, below are our top tips to help you find the right person for your brand!
1. Clearly articulate your brand values, brand identity and target customer – by knowing what YOU stand for, it’s easier to identify who will align with these elements effectively
2. Write a clear brief of the brand ambassador role – what do you expect them to do, over what time period and for what renumeration?
3. Create your wishlist of ambassadors and find the best way to outreach to them. Do you have a direct connection or someone who could introduce you? Direct relationships work best so if you don’t have an introduction route, consider getting the support of a PR agency who specialise in brand ambassador management – we have working relationships with many of the most influential faces in the beauty industry and are well versed in the process of ambassador identification and negotiation with agents to get the best deals for clients
4. Test the shortlist of ambassadors with a focus group of your target audience before investing in a brand ambassador partnership, make sure you get feedback from your target audience on who resonates the best and will work the most for your business!
5. Hold a chemistry meeting with the ambassador (and if needed, their agent) so that you can feel confident that you can work together effectively.
Patsy Kensit for CynoSure UK – A brand partnership managed by Kendrick PR
3 common pitfalls in brand collaborations
The most common difficulties from brand ambassador partnerships fall into three general categories:
1. The ambassador is not the right fit
Sometimes the brand hasn’t done enough due diligence on articulating their own values, identity and target audience demographic – just going with a ‘gut feel’ on who their ambassador should be without going that bit deeper and making sure they are truly aligned. This usually results in the ambassador campaign not generating enough in the way of traction with existing customers, driving sales and pulling through the right new customers. Generally – you won’t see a good return on investment!
2. The brand ambassador role isn’t briefed or managed properly
Clear expectations, briefing and ongoing management are critical to any successful partnership – especially long term, multi-campaign activities. If activities, expectations, and deliverables are not clearly stipulated and agreed at the outset, including basics like signed contracts, there is often confusion, poor delivery and disappointment with the productivity and success of the collaboration. This is another critical area where agency support can be vital, your external team can keep on top of the fine details, keep things running to schedule and ensure the agreed outputs are secured.
3. Something goes wrong outside the ambassador partnership
Unfortunately, this aspect is outside of any brands’ control and refers to an external factor affecting the ambassador’s profile, suitability and standing. There have been various examples over the last few years of a celebrity’s behaviour causing them to lose contracts, sponsorship, or partnerships – behaviours which do not align with the brand ethos, or which call into question their reputation and character. In this scenario, brands must quickly sever ties and lose their investment for any past or forthcoming campaigns – they may also have to invest in issues management PR to limit any backlash or any reputational damage associated with the partnership. Again – having the support of an agency skilled in issues management will help take this load of your plate.
Need some PR expertise?
Here at Kendrick PR we help our clients facilitate authentic and exciting brand ambassador collaborations! Our talent management team can help boost your brand profile and value. As beauty PR experts we have an enviable contact book of A-list makeup artists, beauty industry experts, and high-profile fashion and lifestyle influencers. Our strong network spans the press and social media to present invaluable opportunities for our client’s brands.
Brand ambassadors need to have influence, expertise and authority – our service is designed to leverage the right contact with your brand to deliver effective exposure and real results. We work in a targeted, tailored way to introduce and pair ambassadors with brands, rooted in an authentic relationship which often continues to deliver value and results long after the initial activity.
If you would like to tap into the expertise of our brand ambassador network, please do get in touch!