In the previous entry in this series, we discussed ways that your organization can work as a team to accomplish goals and build a shared brand vision, as well as opportunities for communicating this to your client base. In this second part, we will focus on the team members who originate and drive these ideas. Often referred to as “brand champions,” these are team members who have a passion for an idea and who play a pivotal role in bringing it to fruition.
How to identify brand champions within your team
Do you have team members who are frequently offering creative input or constructive criticism during team meetings? Are these team members willing to take on new tasks in order to see an objective fulfilled? You might have a brand champion waiting to take the reins on a goal that can help boost awareness of your company and, in turn, support your sales and marketing efforts.
Fond, a software service organization, suggests that the following attributes are indicative of a strong internal brand champion:
- They share company news and accomplishments on social media
- They are always in attendance at company events and may even play a role in organizing these
- They have a positive disposition and help bring the team together
- They help to bridge the gap between different teams
- They teach others about company culture and the products available
- They are a great communicator, both internally and to customers/the public
- They may not even realize that they are doing the things mentioned above
Sometimes a brand champion is already doing their part to support the company but also has some untapped potential. Fond suggests that brand champions are “paying attention to the company and keeping others motivated. In fact, they are probably your toughest audience because their expectations are highest,” further recommending that companies should “leverage their feedback and suggestions and keep them informed on exciting company updates as they are likely to share the information with their wider networks.”
Supporting a vision as a component of your larger goals
Before you can go all-in on a goal, you will want to take time to shape it and make sure all involved parties are on the same page. Last time, we discussed the value of sharing information between departments. If your brand champion is leading the charge, it also probably makes sense for them to provide updates to others, whether at regular intervals, at key junctures in the developmental process, or a combination of the two. These can be communicated to teammates via simple email updates, though in-person or digital meetings can provide a more in-depth discussion and provide opportunities for meaningful feedback.
There is also value in bringing leadership figures into the fold. With everything that is already on their plate, your CEO may not have a direct hand in guiding these types of projects, but there is value in keeping them informed, allowing them additional opportunities to spread the word, and letting clients know that they should stay tuned for news to come.
How can clients connect with brand champions? What about opportunities for cross-team support?
In recent years, our CUSO has fostered several initiatives to bring team leaders to the forefront, highlighting their skill sets and helping clients connect with them to find solutions that best fit their individual needs. One of these is our “People Behind the Brands” email series, which offers quick two-paragraph summaries of team members that support brands. These emails provided an easily-digestible summary of what solutions each team member can assist clients with and included links to short-form interviews with the team members in question, as well as links to relevant products and services.
This later helped to inspire our “Get to Know” email series, which is focused on connecting internal departments. These emails utilize a similar structure to the former while placing a spotlight on the various programmers and technology specialists within the CUSO, emphasizing the skills each staff member has accrued during their time with the company. This email series encourages cross-team engagement, providing opportunities for staff to reach out to one another if they have questions about a particular topic or if they are seeking more information on an upcoming project.
Committed brand champions can extend beyond the support of services or an exchanging of skill sets. They might go out of their way to pitch ideas for sharing accomplishments on social media channels or want to play a more active role in upcoming events.
Cultivating an environment to support further results from brand champions
Engaging with and rewarding the efforts of a brand champion can pay dividends on two fronts. First, those who carried out their goals will have an acknowledgment of their talents beyond their day-to-day routine and may offer up additional ideas of new avenues to pursue. Second, a success story within the company is likely to inspire others to pitch their own ideas.
As Martina Bretous of Hubspot puts it, “You want an environment that creates happy employees because happy employees make great champions who will boost your brand without you even asking.” Martina goes on to state that “Providing professional development opportunities and investing in employee resource groups” are other great ways to build your current employees into brand champions.
As more brand champions find a platform that can boost them up, the more your organization will become aware of the areas that could benefit from greater support. A variety of team members channeling unique perspectives and backgrounds opens more doors for opportunities you may not have been as acutely aware of.