“The Face and The Brand”: How Student Ambassadors Represent Brands on College Campuses
Published on March 8, 2022, at 3:02 p.m.
by Sydney Miner.
From sharing social media posts to hosting promotional events, brand ambassadors have been able to strengthen companies’ relationships with key publics. For years, brands have utilized ambassadors to target specific publics, and with the rise of social media, this strategy has grown in popularity. According to research, 75% of brands consider influencers effective in lead generation and customer loyalty.
One public in which many companies have a growing interest is college students. In the United States, there are over 15 million college students who spend over $200 million per year. This college-aged demographic is one that many brands are beginning to heavily target.
By the development of college-specific brand ambassadors, companies are able to develop relationships with students by students. This demographic is one that values affordability, incentives and humor. Through the use of strategic promotion and targeting of students’ wants and needs, brands are able to promote relationships with this large public.
Brands have utilized ambassadors for many years in order to connect with niche communities. With the rise of the college-aged brand ambassador, companies are connecting directly with students on campuses around the country. These brand ambassadors work as liaisons between the brands and their college public. This unique partnership provides students with career experience and brands with new insights on the modern college student.
Effectively reaching college students
Many companies value college-aged students because of how large their public is. Through using strategies such as social media and on-campus events, large companies are able to reach students on various campuses.
Mariana Guzman, a Kendra Scott Gem, has been with the company since August 2020. Guzman noted that in order to be effective, a brand ambassador must “integrate the brand into their everyday life.” From embodying the brand’s core values to casually recommending products to her friends, Guzman has made Kendra Scott part of her daily life.
Companies are better able to target students because of the proximity that their ambassadors have to the college-aged public. Emilia Ciezadlo, a brand ambassador for Curtsy at The University of Alabama, explained that “it’s easier to market to Alabama girls especially when you’re on campus.” She explained, “If you’re on TikTok, the algorithm is within your geographical location, so if you’re on campus then you get to better reach the Tuscaloosa girls.”
Annalee Tyler is a brand ambassador for UniversityTees, at the University of Kentucky. She uses Instagram to effectively reach students on her campus. Knowing that social media is the easiest way to contact students, Tyler hosted a sweatshirt giveaway to UniversityTees’ Instagram page that reached 785 accounts. She believes that the use of this tactic “has boosted [the brand’s] network a lot.”
Creating a brand image on campus
As brand ambassadors, students work to create strong brand presences on their respective campuses. Through events, social media content and trunk-shows, the ambassadors are able to develop personal connections to their brands. In becoming an ambassador, a student representative becomes the face of a company and works to create a brand identity on campus.
Courtney Dempsey, a campus manager for Amazon Prime Student, connects students at the University of North Carolina Charlotte with Amazon Prime Student. She explained that she hosts “an event once a week on different topics and challenges.” Most recently her challenge theme was “gameshow.” According to Dempsey, through setting up tables and holding giveaways, she was able to connect with 200 students. Dempsey expressed that “many students didn’t know the benefits of Amazon Prime” until after she started her ambassador program.
Tyler creates a brand presence for UniversityTees through social media and success stories from previous clients. As an ambassador, Tyler works as the “middle-man” between clients and the art team for UniversityTees. She works with three other ambassadors on campus to create custom apparel for different organizations. She mainly supplies students in Greek-life but noted that the “options are really endless” when it comes to potential customers on the UK campus.
Tyler explained that customer satisfaction has allowed UniversityTees to stand out from its competitors. She said an ambassador has “to start from the ground up” and provide the customers with a good product in order for them to be a retained client.
Maintaining a positive image
When choosing campus ambassadors, brands need to select students who align with their own values. As faces of the brands at their universities, these students must have clean social media and portray the brands in positive ways. Depending on the brand, student ambassadors will have different rules and regulations that they will have to follow. These guidelines will help maintain a positive image for the brand across college campuses.
Dempsey knows the responsibility and image that she needs to uphold as a campus representative for Amazon Prime Student. She explained that she does this “throughout spreading the word about Prime Student and all the benefits that it includes.”
As brand ambassadors, these students are held to a higher standard because of what the position entails. Their Instagram and other social medias are no longer personal; these pages also become the faces of the brands that they’re representing.
Ciezadlo believes that “when companies select someone it really becomes a reflection on the brand and not the individual.” As an ambassador for a brand, she noted that “every action that the individual takes is a reflection on the company.”
When wearing the products or promoting the brands, the student ambassadors become what their peers see as extensions of the brands. Guzman explained that she makes sure “to always be kind and positive whenever the products are on me, or I am wearing my gems gear.” She added, “It is beyond important to share the inclusive values of the brand, especially on a college campus when people learn about the brand.”
Through authentic and effective ambassadors, brands will continue to have the ability to connect with a wide range of communities. College ambassadors develop personal relationships with the students on their campus, while maintaining a positive image of the brand. As a result of college representatives, companies have been able to target this public in a more unique way.