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What we can learn from these 5 brand ambassador programs

Some brands are known for their products, and others are known for their customer service. But the most successful brands are known for their community, which people are excited to join and engage with. 

So, what can you do to build a buzzing community of brand lovers? Start by finding a handful of existing brand fans and turn them into long-term ambassadors. Brand ambassador programs can boost brand loyalty, expand reach, and increase conversions in an authentic way.

To give you an idea of how successful ambassador programs are built, we’ll take a look at 5 examples from leading brands and discuss what we can learn from them. Let’s get started.

Lululemon

How it works

Lululemon’s world famous brand ambassador program is rooted in authenticity. Each ambassadorship starts locally, in its stores around the world. Lululemon works with those who are movers and shakers in their own community. They could be yoga instructors, marathon runners, personal trainers, and other fitness enthusiasts, who are highly motivated and live an active lifestyle. Because they naturally align with the brand, they’re able to embody Lululemon’s values in their everyday lives. 

Lululemon’s ambassadors test out its latest gear, get developmental tools, have access to unique in-person experiences, teach fitness classes, and more. Ambassadors also get perks like extended discounts for family and friends, which drives traffic to the store — meaning more sales and more opportunities to acquire new customers.

It’s hard not to love a brand that cares so deeply about its community.

What you can learn

While many brands turn influencers into brand ambassadors, you don’t have to keep your ambassador pool limited to traditional social media influencers. When recruiting brand ambassadors, take note from Lululemon. Focus on finding people who are really passionate about your brand, such as your loyal customers and your in-store employees.

Your ambassador program is more than just a transactional partnership. Reward them with unique opportunities, support them as they grow their personal brands, and treat them as an extension of your brand family. 

Sephora

How it works

Launched in 2019, #SephoraSquad is the beauty company’s team of ambassadors, who have a diverse range of followers, perspectives, and interests. As Sephora expands its ambassador program, it cycles through an intensive recruitment process, in which they analyze tens of thousands of applications — which include testimonials from applicants’ existing social communities. The goal is to find beauty creators who could represent diversity in various categories, like hair texture or skin type in older age demographics. 

Deborah Yeh, the company’s CMO, explained the concept behind #SephoraSquad. “We see social behaviors constantly evolving and, in order to stay relevant, we felt it was time to take influencer relationships to the next level. We wanted to amplify the beauty community in a larger way and expand the number of voices and perspectives we were using in our work.”

As a member of the #SephoraSquad, ambassadors get early access to products from some of its most popular brands, opportunities to co-create content, a seat in focus groups, access to networking events, and much more. 

What you can learn

Diversity is more important than ever for revenue. In the past, diversity was treated as a mere suggestion that companies continued to ignore and get by with no repercussions. But today, consumers are not afraid to call out and boycott brands that aren’t being inclusive. In fact, 62% of consumers say that a brand’s diversity, or lack thereof, impacts their perception of their products and services. 

Not to mention, diversity is great for business. A Google study found that 64% of those surveyed said they took some sort of action, including purchase after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive.

Just as Sephora did, make sure you’re recruiting a diverse group of ambassadors for your program. And keep in mind that diversity spans far beyond race — include different genders, age, sexual orientations, body types, and so on.

Savage x Fenty

How it works 

Despite being just two years old, Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty has a robust ambassador program featuring people from various walks of life. The majority of its ambassadors are celebrities and social media influencers who represent the Savage X Fenty values — those who portray a message of body positivity. 

However, for her 2020 #SavageXSummer line, Rihanna gave “regular” brand fans the incredible opportunity to become Savage X Fenty ambassadors. After hosting a social media contest, Rihanna picked four individuals to be featured in the campaign. The contest winners were women of different sizes and races who could speak a message of confidence to the brand’s community and beyond. 

This is an extension of Savage X Fenty’s larger 2020 content strategy. Earlier this year, the brand worked with its ambassadors to style remote photoshoots amid the pandemic.

What you can learn

Leverage your ambassadors to create content that resonates with your wider brand community. There are several benefits to doing so:

  • Brand ambassadors will create evergreen content throughout the partnership. Since their content is always relevant and timely, you can repurpose it across your marketing channels at any time of the year. 
  • Since ambassadors have proven their loyalty to your brand, their content also comes with their authentic endorsement. 
  • Handing over content creation to ambassadors eliminates the need for studio shoots year round, which is especially helpful during a time when we’re all social distancing.

Gymshark

How it works 

In the early days of fitness apparel brand Gymshark, it started working with YouTubers in the fitness space to increase brand awareness. As the brand grew, Gymshark strived to create a “family” that shared the same passion for fitness and in helping others, along with a vision to grow into something bigger than themselves. Now, Gymshark’s athletes are all part of long-term ambassadorships, rather than one-off sponsorships. 

Stephanie O’Neill, Gymshark’s Head of PR, commented, “It’s all about being authentic. The vast majority of Gymshark ambassadors were once fans and consumers of the brand. Who better to represent the brand than those who actually love Gymshark?”

Today, the brand takes its ambassador relationships to the next level by co-creating entire collections with them. Take Gymshark ambassador, Whitney Simmons, for example. The brand first collaborated with Whitney on a sold-out workout line in 2019. It was so successful that they worked on a second Gymshark x Whitney Simmons collection, which launched this October. 

What you can learn

Even among all of your wonderful brand ambassadors, there are standouts. Identify those who are most passionate about your brand. Then, like Gymshark, reward top performers by co-creating products (or entire collections) with them. 

Remember that co-creation is much more involved than simply gathering customer feedback. True co-creation means consumers are involved in each step of the process from research and development to promotion, forming a true partnership. 

Not only will co-creation boost your ambassadors’ brand loyalty, but 61% of businesses also say that co-creation leads to more successful products. 

Xbox

How it works 

In an effort to reward passionate Xbox fans and create an inclusive, community-focused environment, Xbox created a highly sought-after ambassador program with tiered incentives.

Ambassadors have seasonal, monthly, and daily challenges that unlock special rewards like Xbox Live badges, exclusive swag, sweepstakes tickets, and editorial spotlights. At the same time, they also contribute to making Xbox a welcoming online community by starting forums on Discord and Twitter to discuss gaming strategies or by adding friends on Xbox, for example. 

With this strategy, Xbox has created a (nearly) self-regulated community servicing millions of gamers around the world, saving the brand millions of dollars in additional support staff. 

What you can learn

Rely on your community. Give ambassadors the creative freedom to talk about your brand in an authentic way. After all, creators know their audience best and they want to continue interacting with them in a way that feels authentic to them and their audience. 

And remember to educate your ambassadors prior to launching the program. That way, you can ensure that ambassadors are representing your company in an accurate, on-brand way.  

Build your own brand ambassador program

At the end of the day, it’s all about building authentic relationships. The people you’re working with should be an extension of your brand family. Find those who are passionate about your brand, engage with them in meaningful ways, and continue to nurture those relationships through your brand ambassador program. 

For more ambassador program best practices, enroll in our free Ambassador Program Academy.

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