Makeup and skincare brands are well known for their use of beautiful celebrities and models to the ‘face’ of their brand. Cate Blanchett is the obvious choice for SK-II, a brand that promotes its ability to help you achieve the glowing, flawless beauty that Cate Blanchett seems to naturally and unfairly possess on top of a billion other talents. Another very popular cosmetics brand L’oréal uses a variety of beautiful and famous women from Beyoncé to Scarlett Johansson to represent their product. In the case of these appearance orientated brands, it’s not too hard to see why they choose to have a human face; they want you to want your face to look like the ‘face’.
But it’s not only cosmetics brands. Heaps of diverse companies who sell products from watches to coffee machines choose to employ someone to be the face of their brand, and sometimes the decision can cost them up to the billions of dollars. How could anyone be worth that much? It’s obvious how the celebrity benefits from the deal, but what do the companies get out of it? We can only assume if the most successful and profitable businesses in the world are spending so much money on something, it’s got to be giving them some return. They’ve learnt that for anyone trying to distinguish themselves in a saturated market the association with someone popular and credible and the ability to leverage their fan base is worth so much. The best brand ambassadors make themselves worth the extra dollar bills by creating something a little extra special, the it factor that draws people in and makes them want to be a part of what that person is offering.
The big money may bring big sales, but it doesn’t come without a big risk. If your high profile star falls from grace you can bet it will be very public and very hard. The ‘face’ of the brand is more than just a spokesperson, they come to embody the brand itself. So while their assets and talents become the brand, so too do their personal fumblings and occasionally, their criminal activities. We’re not trying to make generalisation, but it feels like sports stars suffer from this a little more than most (hello Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong).
For smaller brands that’s not so much a risk if their star doesn’t have the public profile of people such as Cate Blanchett and Tiger Woods, but they can definitely still make use of a brand ambassador whose presence can humanise the personality and the values of the brand. We think photo shoots are a great and simple way to achieve this, when you don’t quite need a 6 foot model to turn up to a red carpet event in floor length Dior. Even companies that stick in a quick stock photo of “the smiling chipper girl holding up a phone” on to their website may not understand the importance of branding, but they at least do understand the importance of customers seeing and associated their brand with a human face.