06 Jul How Local Brand Ambassadors Make A Difference In Your Place Branding
One of the greatest challenges in place branding initiatives is getting a broad swath of the community engaged. While the process and outcome are usually managed by a handful of government and economic development officials, it takes the entire community to fully activate a community brand and have it manifest among the citizenry.
This is where brand ambassadors come into play. Ambassadors expand the size of your brand rollout team and provide an easy way to amplify the brand and its message to every corner of your community. Engaging passionate people is the key to establishing a community brand that captures hearts and minds to become a part of daily life and reach out in the broader region, country, or world.
Early involvement is essential to a successful brand ambassador program. Get them integrated at the start and provide ongoing updates to show them how the process works so they can see how it yields the outcome the community needs. An understanding of how it’s made will help them tell the story more authentically and create a level of engagement that makes them active members of its success.
Another key success factor of ambassador programs is having a group that represents the population in total. You can’t have it focused around a certain area of town, income range, job type, age bracket or the same people that always get involved. Make sure your team is representative of every segment of your community. This is more difficult to do and you will have to seek them out but the result is that everyone can see themselves in the brand. When individuals identify with the community brand and believe in its essence, you’ve automatically expanded your number of ambassadors.
One of the best examples of this approach is in Marshall, Minnesota, a regional center in southwest Minnesota. Their culture of individual growth and achievement in a supportive community was a story that was longing to be told. Their brand needed to invite interest and communicate the outsized opportunity that Marshall’s global impact provides. That yielded the following brand DNA statement:
For those who value seeing their horizon and helping shape it, Marshall – home to Southwest Minnesota State University and homegrown global brands, is the community that cultivates the best in us with an energy and optimism that make a difference for your family.
Prior to the new brand’s launch, the ambassadors in Marshall recorded video testimonials to share their personal experiences as to why they chose Marshall as a place to live, work and thrive. These testimonials were created ahead of the new brand’s launch but in the end all spoke to the essence of the new brand. These testimonials were a perfect way to promote the brand and helped others in the community more closely identify with the brand. Check out the video below to see how the citizens of Marshall describe what this community means to them and their success in life. When wrapped up in the brand visuals and language, you really get a good feel of what it’s like to live in Marshall and a cohesive and compelling brand story.
At the end of the day, buy-in throughout the community is critical to place branding success. A strong strategy and brand can only go so far if the people it represents aren’t engaged in its delivery. Getting them involved early, inviting them into the process and ultimately enabling them to tell their part of the story – whether it’s to their neighbor or the world – will compound the investment you make in your place brand and let it weave throughout the fabric of the community.