using personal brand ambassadors to build your brand

Louise Kelly Hearts and MindsFounder Thought Leaders Circle

Louise Kelly Hearts and Minds
Founder Thought Leaders Circle

In the marketplace of social media, personal brand ambassadors are moving centre stage. In the search for authenticity, a brand  needs to have more than a single voice for the brand, it needs a series of talking heads and beating hearts to amplify your brand through waves of social media.

These personal brands are not  the old role of journalists, they are  storytellers, who are also content producers, publishers, networkers, writers and photographers all in one. The capability of personal technology such as iphones, are allowing stories to be told on the spot, real time, and finally to be published by the writer/producer themselves.

The impact of social media has meant that the writer/content producer is no longer the detached observer but immersed in the content and expressing everything from a very personal perspective. The new style  leans towards subjective, authentic and emotive rather than objective and rationale. Writers are no longer just content producers, but personal brands that express their personality, values and social energy with others.

Even at  traditional media houses there has been a shift from journalists to empowered content producers. At Forbes, it is the writer who also produces the content on the spot and presses the publish button…gone are the days of the final word of the editor.

Matching the style of social media, audiences are seeking passionate real time content rather than over staged, plucked and pruned photography and the stilted voice. These writers/content producers are given a freedom of thought and independence, not possible in the old world top down command and control model.

As powerful as the personal brand model is, it is not without risk. There are many examples of personal brand ambassadors that left their original sponsor and set up competitive brands or switched to the competitor.

Here are some Australian examples:

There is Greg Norman’s switch from Holden to Toyota, which left customers transferring Holden’s big car brand values over to the launch of Toyota’s Avalon. Donna Hay, once the face of cooking for Marie Clare,  left  with much of their cooking audience, to set up her own empire.

One from Lancome cosmetics:

Isabella Rosellini, now 60, was the face of Lancome for 14 years and launched her own cosmetic line in 1995, which from my attempts to research online, appears to continue today as a perfume house.

The lesson of Tiger Woods:

No one needs to know how this ended, Tiger’s very public airing of his infidelities led to the end of his contract with Accenture amongst others.  Brand tracking research showed that even while this action was taken, damage was done to sponsoring brands. So while its great to tap into an existing personal brand to boost the equity of your business brand, it is not without liabilities.

The lesson for brands going the personal brand route, don’t have just one personal brand  representing your business, have a family of personal brands that allow for life’s changes and to reflect your customer segments. A family of personal brands will stop all that brand equity going elsewhere when contracts expire.

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

Founder Thought Leaders Circle

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