The Ultimate Guide To Creating Brand Champions
We all need champions, regardless of who we are. In the business world, brand champions are your biggest supporters and advocates, and in today’s intensely competitive market, business owners need their loyal and unwavering support, regardless of whether they are titans or independent startups.
With brands battling for that top-of-mind spot among customers, company champions are one of the most critical assets your business can have in its arsenal. While customers are bombarded with marketing and messaging about brands, your champions take it upon themselves to share their passion, promote your values, praise your products, and ultimately convince new customers that you’re worth their time – or not.
Their enthusiasm is contagious and they create a powerful ripple effect that can drive sales, amplify your message and drive growth. With brand champions by your side, you can leverage their passion and enthusiasm to build a strong and loyal customer base, drive brand awareness, boost ROI, build brand loyalty, enhance your reputation and consolidate your position as a market leader. Essentially, they’re really important.
Here, we’ll discuss the importance of company champions, how to earn their trust, integrate them into your branding strategy, and generate organic brand growth. Now, let’s take a closer look!
What is a brand champion?
Champions are brand evangelists. Essentially, they are loyal and enthusiastic brand supporters, deeply connected to your goals, personally invested in your values, and committed to sharing them with others. They live and breathe your brand and encourage others to do the same.
There’s no one way for a champion to look – employees, customers, clients, shareholders, and volunteers can all fall under this category. And, no matter who they are, you can rely on them to build support for your brand with anyone and everyone.
In addition to actively using your products and services, they also help promote your organisation by leaving positive reviews on social media, sharing your content and spreading the word about your value proposition, company culture and brand values. They serve as trusted advisors and advocates, providing social proof and influencing other buyers with their positive endorsements of your brand.
There are several types of brand champions, depending on the size and scale of your business, and you might be thinking: ‘hang on a minute, what’s the difference between champions, brand ambassadors, and loyal customers? While there are similarities between all three, there are also some key differences. Let’s take a closer look.
Champions VS Brand Ambassadors
As we’ve established, champions are enthusiastic customers who promote a brand out of love and loyalty. In contrast, ambassadors are typically paid to promote or form a partnership with a brand and may not have a close connection to it.
While both can be valuable assets for a brand, champions often have a deeper level of engagement and passion, which can lead to more sustainable and long-lasting growth.
Champions VS Loyal Customers
A brand’s loyal customers are those who are satisfied with its products or services and choose it over its competitors. While they may recommend the brand to their family and friends, they aren’t likely to promote it beyond that. Company champions, on the other hand, are passionate and enthusiastic customers who are deeply connected to the brand.
Qualities of all brand champions
A company champion genuinely loves your band and isn’t afraid to show it. It doesn’t matter if they are loyal customers or dedicated employees; they understand and believe in your company’s values.
Ultimately, champions come in all shapes and sizes, and the more champions your brand has, the stronger it will be. While they can differ in their backgrounds and experiences, there are a few characteristics they all share:
- Your products and services enrich their lives.
- Your products are something they want to share with their friends.
- Your company’s activities interest them.
- They actively endorse your brand, and they care about how others perceive it.
- Your brand story, mission, and values are familiar to them.
- They actively seek after your brand.
- They will likely follow your brand on your social media platforms.
- They’re happy to promote you for free and don’t expect payments or incentives for their referrals.
Benefits of having brand champions and how they can drive organic growth
Hopefully, by now, it’s becoming clear that there are innumerable benefits to having company champions cheer for your brand from the sidelines, within your company ranks, on social media – or wherever else they might be.
In addition to boosting your public image, champions generate new business, increase visibility, build credibility and more. Let’s take a closer look.
- They improve brand trust. The truth is that people are more likely to trust a champion than they are advertisements or messages from companies. Trusting a friend, family member, or friend of a friend is always easier than trusting a large corporation.
- They increase brand awareness. The more people you have endorsing your brand the more people are likely to recognise you. It’s that simple. A brand’s champions are powerful forces behind its growth and brand building.
- A higher reach is possible. Champions have their own circles and audiences and will no doubt introduce you to new and relevant customer profiles through their recommendations. That being said, getting those all-important public endorsements from the right people is an important part of brand management.
- They’re cost-effective. You don’t have to pay your champions to advocate for you – they’re happy to do so for free. As a result, they are much more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods, such as advertisements. Through your champions, you can reap the benefits of advertising without incurring the costs. It’s a win-win.
- They improve your social credibility. Champions increase social engagement and credibility for your brand by sharing, commenting, reviewing, and interacting online. Not only do they provide social proof and leave positive reviews, but they’re also great at addressing any concerns or criticisms that may arise and mitigating the concerns of prospective customers.
- They encourage higher conversion rates and more lead generation. By leveraging their enthusiasm, advocacy, and network of followers, champions can drive higher conversion rates and generate more leads for brands. Moreover, they bring in new customers who are more likely to convert and become lifetime customers.
- They provide valuable feedback. Champions can provide valuable feedback and insights to your brand, helping you to better understand its customers’ needs and preferences and improve your offerings and services accordingly.
What you need before creating brand champions
The first step to creating your very own champions is to build a brand that people want to promote and shout about in the first place!
Here’s what you’ll need to consider before getting started on your own brand champion programme:
- A clearly defined brand identity. This is a must for any brand-building exercise. It’s crucial to have a strong brand identity to create champions. You should have a clear mission, vision, and values that resonate with your target audience, as well as a unique and memorable brand personality that differentiates you from your competitors.
- Remarkable products. Without a great product, you’re less likely to get endorsements from your customers. It might be a good idea to go back to the drawing board if your product or service is getting negative reviews.Keep working on it until your target market loves it. Before they can start raving about your product, your prospective champions need a product to believe in. Ultimately, no one wants to make a bad recommendation, it reflects badly on them!
- Customer service that’s second to none. Your customers love brands with responsive and human customer service, so make sure you give them what they need. Don’t underestimate the power of a responsive, empathetic customer service team, and make sure it’s big enough to handle all the new customers your brand champions will bring along with them. If you don’t, all the good work you’ve put into developing your product will go to waste.
- Loyal customers. This one goes without saying. Knowing what your customers think about you and why they keep coming back for more is essential. One-time buyers aren’t enough.You need to know everything about your current champions in order to create new ones. When did they start acting like an advocate for your brand? What prompted it? Have they been involved in any rewards or campaigns? What are they saying about your brand?
Tips for building company champions and leveraging your unique brand champion marketing
Developing brand advocates doesn’t happen overnight but must be nurtured right from the start. Here are some ways to build company champions and leverage your own brand champion marketing.
1. Invest in employer branding
Employer branding is all about branding and marketing your company. Not only does it convey your company’s value proposition, but it also creates a positive brand perception among your ideal candidates and customers. Ultimately, you want your customers to know you care for your employees, and this is your chance to prove it.
Everyone looks up to strong employers like Nike, and we love to support brands we know deserve to be celebrated. A strong employer brand is crucial when it comes to outshining your competition and turning both your internal team and customers into devoted company champions.
Your employees will become brand ambassadors if you give them a brand they can stand behind. Once you’ve earned their trust, they’ll start sharing their experiences – from their onboarding experience to company news to activities. The more they share and the more positive testimonials you receive, the more power your brand will have and the more able you will be to influence and attract potential candidates, customers and business partners.
2. Empower and connect with champions on social media
Social media plays a vital role in engaging and connecting with your community, which should come as no surprise to you. When it comes to company champions, social media offers endless ways to connect with and empower them.
Someone who follows you on social media is one step away from becoming your champion. They already like your brand, want to stay up-to-date with your activities and be associated with you. The more you nurture your relationship with them, the more loyal they’ll become, and the more likely they’ll become champions. It’s that simple.
You have lots of options when it comes to engaging your champions on social media. A few strategies :
- Brand hashtags. Make your company more visible and solidify your brand by leveraging the power of brand hashtags. Simple yet effective, they’re great for starting conversations and measuring engagement. If they go viral, your brand could reach completely new demographics and reach more people than any other marketing effort ever could.
- User-generated content. This kind of endorsement is gold dust for your brand. You should encourage your champions to share your products on their social media accounts. Real and honest content like this builds trust with prospective customers and boosts your brand’s image.
3. Establish customer referral programs
Referral marketing schemes are a powerful tool for building company champions. Besides driving new business, brand champions also spread positive word-of-mouth marketing. A surefire way to build a loyal following is to encourage customers to refer their friends and family to your business – they’ll come flocking.
Even if you already have champions promoting your brand, it’s always a good idea to motivate them. Referral programs are all about rewards.
If you want your referral program to be successful, you need to offer meaningful incentives to your customers, such as discounts, free products, or exclusive access to events. It’s even possible to set up two-sided programs where both the referrer and the referred receive rewards.
Remember to keep things simple at all times. Your customers must be able to refer others easily, whether through an easy-to-navigate online form, a personalised referral link, an app, or social media, otherwise it might put them off doing so.
4. Engage customers with loyalty initiatives
Incentives that reward loyalty effectively build long-term customer relationships and entice them to stick around. Creating emotional connections takes time and effort, and companies looking to build or leverage the power of company champions should engage users at every major touchpoint throughout their continuous lifecycle.
Keeping your users’ loyalty requires welcoming them to your community, showing them the value of being a customer, and maintaining consistent efforts. Throughout all this, loyalty initiatives and special offers assist in keeping your customers engaged, galvanised and connected to your brand.
VIP reward programs are a great way to create champions. Make sure you show your gratitude to your loyal customers for choosing you over your competitors. Whether offering customers cost-saving deals, exclusive sales access, resources, or teaming up with partners to offer third-party rewards, these tactics are great ways to incentivise their loyalty. Additionally, these initiatives foster a sense of community among customers, resulting in a stronger relationship with the brand.
5. Ask for feedback (and be sure to use it)
Champions love to feel heard and valued, and providing your customers with a voice is a surefire way to strengthen their connection to your brand.
These people have been with your brand for a while and know the positives and negatives of your products and services. Your champions should be encouraged to share their opinions and provided a space to do so.
Consider setting up dedicated feedback channels or surveying your customers via social media or newsletters. As a result of this all-important feedback, your company gains valuable insights, and your customers feel personally invested in the success of the company. You can get feedback from your champions in a few ways:
- Organise one-on-one interviews. This can be done face-to-face, on the phone, or over a platform like Zoom. Making your customer feel appreciated and valued will increase their loyalty and likelihood to give you honest feedback.
- Send emails. You can reach out via email if you don’t have the time or resources for one-on-one interviews. Be sure to personalise your outreach and thank your champions. There’s a good chance they’ll be flattered to receive a personal note from the company and won’t hesitate to write a review.
- Send a survey. Surveys are great because they can be sent through a variety of channels. Also, this is a great opportunity to ask specific questions about your products and services.
You can demonstrate a willingness to improve by actively seeking feedback and taking action. In addition to increasing loyalty and retention, this also provides valuable insights for product development and marketing.
6. Galvanise and train your employees
To empower your employees to become enthusiastic champions for your brand, yous should educate them about your company’s brand values, mission, and goals. You can strengthen employee loyalty by offering customer service training and training resources, as well as encouraging employee involvement on social media.
To engage your biggest asset – your employees – consider an employee referral program. You should never assume they don’t need incentives and motivation just because they work for you. Keep in mind that your rewards should excite your employees. Sometimes these rewards can come in the for of praise recognition – after all, who doesn’t like having their hard work recognised? With this in mind, don’t shy away from publicly praising your employee champions. Not only does this set a shining example, but encourages others to follow their lead.
Employees who feel invested in the brand are more likely to go the extra mile and promote it – so don’t forget to motivate them! It always pays off to have a galvanised workforce.
7. Select and train long-term brand ambassadors
By identifying individuals who share your brand values and providing them with the necessary resources and training, you can create a team of passionate advocates who can effectively promote your brand to a wider audience.
Your goal is to find content creators who have been talking about your brand and mentioning it positively to their networks. Identify your brand cheerleaders who have built up trust among your target consumers and have strong relationship-building skills. Or, consider asking customers who have referred many people to your brand or people who you think fit well with your brand to become brand ambassadors.
Don’t assume your champions can showcase your brand in a way that aligns with your brand identity. While they love to showcase your brand, they may need some guidance on how to do so in a way that aligns with your branding strategy or brand personality. Provide training resources or a handbook for brand ambassadors that outlines:
- Any T&Cs
- Brand information
- A brand champion’s responsibilities
- Inspiration for content
- The best practices
- Helpful resources
8. Gather testimonials
Testimonials provide social proof, build trust and credibility, and lead to higher conversions. When potential customers see positive reviews and feedback from satisfied customers, it can inspire them to take action and purchase. Although these endorsements may seem small, they can make a big difference to potential customers trying to decide whether to trust you.
9. Put your brand’s fans in the spotlight
Find individuals who are passionate about your brand and highlight them. If anyone deserves to be spotlighted, it’s them. Your brand already resonates deeply with them – they only need a platform to share the love.
Put them in the spotlight and make sure that their voices are amplified. Share their words on your website, interview them on social media and mention them in internal company memos. Ultimately, it’s up to you to give them a platform to share what they already feel about your brand.
In today’s competitive business landscape, building company champions is more important than ever.
By building company champions and creating your own champion marketing strategy, you can create a community of loyal customers who will actively promote and defend your brand. This can help you establish a competitive edge in the marketplace, drive sales, attract new customers and ultimately, grow your business.
Need a hand?
Branding extends beyond logos and products. A successful branding or marketing strategy revolves around people, and your company champions are vital for solidifying your top position in the marketplace and the minds of your customers.
Hopefully, you can see that company champions are worth mobilising. When you empower evangelists who love your brand, you can expect fantastic results in terms of sales, leads and growth. A loyal set of champions is a major part of the success of every great brand.
However, developing a successful champion strategy takes time and resources. As brand experts who specialise in developing campaign identities, developing brand strategies and positioning brands – we’d love to help.
Whether you’re reinvigorating or launching a new brand, seeking to increase your digital presence or implementing a new brand strategy, we’d love to help you find your own brand champions and unleash your brand’s full potential.