Brand ambassador is a marketing term for a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services within the activity known as branding. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics. The key element of brand ambassadors lies in their ability to use promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product/service relationship and influence a large audience to buy and consume more.
— Wikipedia

The critically acclaimed television show “Mad Men” is set in New York City.   According to the show, the term “Mad Men” was created by the advertising executives themselves from their offices located on Madison Avenue.   The series takes place in the early 60's when Americans still largely believed everything they heard and saw, especially through the major media channels.

The series walks us through the cultural shift from taking most things at face value to the questioning of nearly everything in the late 60′s.  Political scandal, uncertainty of war, and changing social mores, all played into a general sense of innocence lost.  America was now a long way from “your word is your bond” and only doing business with people you knew on a handshake.

Like in most things, what was old is new again.  In a society largely disconnected from authentic relationships by the very technology that purported to bring them closer, a jaded populace is looking for confirmation.  How do I know if the goods, services, or experiences I am purchasing online or over the phone, are going to meet my expectations?

Customer service savvy companies are not only identifying brand ambassadors within their organizations, they are utilizing brand strategists to help them communicate their message. Bonnie Raitt used to sing, “Let’s give them something to talk about.”  In our social-networked world, what they are talking about better be positive.  We’re no longer leaning over the fence for neighborly advice or walking in and shaking a shopkeeper’s hand.  We’re searching for reviews, numbers of stars, and testimonials to confirm our purchase decisions.

It is interesting that in one of the earliest known marketing campaigns, twelve brand ambassadors were trained and sent out to spread a simple message to all the world.  Paul, the one we know the most about, repeatedly wrote to their branch offices (churches) and either encouraged their advancing of the authentic brand or chided them for the way they were tarnishing the reputation.

Ultimately, the brand message of my family, company, and other areas where I lead, is being determined by me.  My life and leadership is either going to create a “fragrant aroma” that draws others or a “rotten fruit” that repels.  In a very connected social media world, both the good news and bad will eventually be known by all.

Brand management is no longer dictated by “Mad Men” getting us to buy into an idea whether it is true or not.  Brand is determined by the organically reflected reality of how we care for others, fulfill their expectations, and meet their needs.  The real work of ambassadors is not to whitewash a brand with aspirational values, but drive the organization to fulfillment.

  • Are you clear on what brands you are representing?
  • Are you being a good ambassador of that brand through your leadership?
  • Are those you love and lead riding for the same brand?