Rebecca emphasises the advantages of developing brand champions within a business that can effectively represent a brand, no matter the audience.
It’s been a tough few years for businesses and consumers alike. First, there was the pandemic to contend with. Businesses had to be careful with every communication, lest they land on the wrong side of customers or stakeholders. Now in 2022, businesses are once again struggling, this time with a recession and the rising cost of living. Careful communication is more important than ever. Rebecca Jabbar, the founder of Brand Champion Bootcamp, says brands should not leave these sensitive communications to a standard spokesperson but rather a brand champion.
She joined the What’s Possible Community sessions to reveal how an authentic brand champion could add credibility and authenticity to their next communications.
As social media becomes increasingly prevalent, marketing strategies must adapt to become more conversational in order to connect with audiences on a personal level. According to data compiled by Sprout Social, 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them. Additionally, 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active on social media.
“A brand champion is someone who can embody the brand, bring the brand personality to the fore. People buy from people. A brand champion is someone who is able to champion the brand; representing it effectively, whilst being authentically them,” Rebecca explained. “Being credible, being personal. Bringing themselves into those messages and helping people see the true value of the brand”.
Rebecca warns businesses not to communicate their statements, press releases or content on their website through a company spokesperson who isn’t a brand champion. She says audiences are more likely to react positively to credible, personal and authentic communicators.
Businesses and consumers are facing increased pressure from inflationary pressures. As a result, any person who represents a business or interacts with the public may be asked awkward questions about the current economic conditions. Wielding brand champion confidence will help whoever responds to these questions to respond effectively.
There have been a few unfortunate examples of brands not communicating effectively with their audiences on the topic of the cost of living. Rebecca says marketers need to understand their target audience before they communicate with them in order to ensure the message is received as intended.
“Marketers already understand the personas, the customers, and target audiences. The key is looking at what matters to the audience. What are the things they are finding challenging?” she said.
It is important to understand the needs and feelings of the audience in order to communicate effectively and empathically. According to Rebecca, putting the needs of the audience first is always a good idea.
She believes that a brand champion (with a human touch) could more effectively communicate key information to audiences than written content alone. This champion could deliver messages in a way that reassures audiences and instils confidence.
“We are all human. We need you as the spokesperson – the brand champion – to be able to relay that. To anticipate what needs to be said in terms of what people are feeling and wanting to hear, and then actually relaying it. Only you as a spokesperson have that ability to really show the empathy far more than the written word can.”
Rebecca notes that different organizations have varying views on the role of brand champions. In her experience, one company deployed brand champions internally, with the goal of having employees who would champion the brand’s values within the organization.
She believes C-level executives in a company should receive training to become good brand champions, in order to represent the brand to various audiences. After the C-suite have been properly trained, they should be prepared to champion the brand for any occasion – be it media interviews, panel discussions, or podcasts.
However, there may be key non-senior individuals within an organisation who would be a good fit to be a brand champion based on their particular knowledge.
“Businesses can train key people with specialisms who can look after certain areas that matter to the brand strategically. You can also have an authorised spokesperson programme – to include individuals who are allowed to and are equipped to handle crisis communications. It depends on the size of the business and the brand,” she said.
Rebecca concludes by asserting that anyone chosen as a brand champion should be well-equipped with strong storytelling skills and the ability to be authentic, credible, and empathetic. She believes whoever the audience is will appreciate these qualities.