How to Use Endorsements in Marketing to Build a Strong Brand

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One of the most effective motivators for bringing new consumers to a brand is deliberate endorsement through lucrative channels. When reputable individuals and businesses endorse a brand, it can be a powerful and mutually beneficial marketing tool for both parties. Understanding how endorsement works in marketing and when endorsement opportunities are worth taking is key for marketers to reach and resonate with many new consumers. In this article, we define endorsements in marketing, explain when it's wise to use endorsement, list the types, and provide steps for how to use it to promote a brand.

What are endorsements in marketing?

Endorsements in marketing are arrangements between a brand and an individual or business which agrees to represent them publicly and commercially. Common examples are celebrities endorsing a brand's products in exchange for payment or free products. An endorsement is a public declaration of support of the product's benefits, qualities, or features. Here are some descriptions of the main types of commercial endorsement:

Paid and unpaid

Unpaid endorsements are the most common variety and are those in which endorsers don't receive monetary payment for endorsing a brand's products or service. Usually, this involves remuneration in the form of free products, or supplying products for the purpose of reviewing, which the endorser keeps. Paid endorsements are those where an organization pays the endorser to represent their products supportively in return for payment. With unpaid endorsements, the endorsers sometimes don't have a legal obligation to represent the product positively. Being paid for an endorsement usually means that there's an agreement in place to ensure the endorsement is supportive.

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Another type of endorsement which doesn't have a promotional purpose that benefits the endorser is certification. These endorsements usually mean that an authoritative body declares that a product or service meets regulatory standards. An example of this form of endorsement is when an importation standards board endorses a product for its ethical sourcing by allowing the brand to use its certification icon on its packaging. While a brand may pay for an application to gain this certification, it isn't paying for the certifier to represent it in its own commercial profile.

Consumer branding

Another form of endorsement which brands may use is to turn their consumers into endorsers of their brands. The most common way for brands to do this is to place branding on their products, so that when a customer wears, uses, or consumes the product publicly, they're unintentionally endorsing it. This is a common strategy, but doesn't select the particular individuals endorsing a brand.

Explicit or implicit endorsements

Explicit endorsements are those where the endorser is openly representing and supporting a brand's products or services. This usually involves acknowledging their endorsement of a brand, and explaining what they like about it. When endorsers support a brand explicitly, whether or not through payment, they typically describe the product's or service's benefits, and anything else they like about the brand. For example, a video content producer acknowledging an episode's sponsor and listing that brand's positive attributes is explicit endorsement. This usually requires the endorser to mention particular talking points and information.

Implicit endorsements are those where the endorser doesn't express that they're representing a brand, but rather supports it through public use and recommendation. This is similar to an explicit endorsement in that a video content producer may still feature a product or its branding prominently and even discuss its benefits. These endorsements differ in that they might not reveal that they have an agreement to endorse the product. Through this form of endorsement, individuals may still influence consumers to favour a brand, but the viewer may not be aware of an active endorsement.

When to use marketing endorsements

Endorsements are a powerful promotional tool for brands to use, but understanding when an endorser can support a brand is key to choosing lucrative promotional opportunities. Below is a list of the conditions necessary for a beneficial endorsement:

When an endorser aligns with the brand

One of the most elemental factors of endorsement is ensuring that the person who represents the brand aligns with its values and demographics. For an endorsement to resonate with a brand's consumers, the best individuals to endorse it usually share a consumer base or appeal to the same markets. For example, a home baking brand may likely benefit more from endorsement by a celebrity chef than a professional wrestler. It's important for brands to consider the interests, age, location, and socio-economic status of their demographic before choosing a suitable endorser.

When an endorser has a built-in audience

A common reason for a brand to choose an endorser is because they have a follower-base who represents a guaranteed audience for the brand's promotion. For example, if a celebrity has 25,000 followers on their social media account, this represents a large demographic of people a brand can expose to their commercial offering. When considering if an endorser may be a lucrative choice for your brand, make sure that their reach may yield sufficient exposure of your brand.

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When an endorser is sufficiently high-profile

Similar to an endorser's built-in audience, it's worthwhile considering if their public profile is high enough to legitimize any endorsement agreements. When considering an endorser, it's beneficial to factor in not only their personal followers, but the coverage they get from general media outlets. For instance, a professional athlete may not represent a large social media followership, but can be maintain a highly public profile through the coverage of their games. By including the athlete in an advertisement, even those who don't follow their social media profile may recognize the validity of their endorsement.

When the ROI is high

Another fundamental stage when choosing an endorser is to consider the ROI, or return on investment of an endorsement agreement. This means that the funds the company spends on sponsoring an endorsement represents a high enough earning to offset expenditure and provide a revenue worth the investment. In relation to endorsement, a positive ROI means choosing a representative who can endorse the brand at an affordable cost for the business. Even if unpaid, it's worth considering if the endorsement you gain is lucrative enough to offset the cost of products to write-off.

How to use marketing endorsements

Here are some helpful steps you can follow to arrange lucrative endorsements to promote a brand:

1. Consider your marketing goals

Before you begin searching for endorsers to represent a brand, it's crucial to first consider the marketing goals you wish to achieve. Consider the reach and resonance you wish to achieve through your endorsement strategy, and create specific, actionable, and achievable objectives. The more specific and measurable your goals are, the better you can inform marketing decisions and assess the success of a campaign. You can define reach and resonance as the following:

  • Reach: The number of new consumers an endorser can allow you to reach

  • Resonance: How memorable and impactful and endorsement can be for consumers

2. Determine the type of endorsement you require

The next step is to decide which type of endorsement may suit your marketing needs best. Specifically, you may consider whether you wish to use an implicit or explicit endorsement, or paid or unpaid. If you decide to use paid endorsements, you may consider the budget you have for paying an endorser, and for supplying products, merchandise, or paying for coverage, such as filming sessions or radio time.

If your endorsement is to be explicit, it's important to create guidelines for the endorser to adhere to when representing the brand, such as verbiage to use, key points to mention, or topics to avoid in relation to the brand. Even for implicit endorsements, these guidelines can be essential for ensuring that an endorser represents your brand exactly how you want.

3. Shortlist appropriate endorsers

Typically, brands seeking endorsers create a shortlist of the most appropriate or appealing endorsers. This makes it easier to evaluate the qualities which make these individuals appealing prospects. Within a shortlist, you can rank your top picks. This allows you to systematically consider endorsers starting with your most favourable option.

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4. Research and background checks

Before you connect with a possible endorser, it's crucial that you conduct research on the individual or organization to ensure that they're a suitable fit. This gives you an opportunity to discover any undesirable circumstances, history, or reputations which may associate with the brand unfavourably. It's essential that you conduct background checks before contacting a potential endorser, as even news that you're considering an endorser with an incompatible reputation may gain attention which doesn't benefit the brand.

5. Make contact to propose endorsement

Once you've determined if an endorser suits the brand and completed the necessary background checks, you can make contact with them and present a proposal. There are several ways you can do this, but a common method is to write a proposal document. This document contains the conditions of the endorsement, including any remuneration or minimum requirements for brand representation. Other elements of this document may include:

  • Timeline of endorsement with start and end dates

  • Contractual obligations for representing the brand

  • Your endorsement objectives

  • The demographic you intend to target

  • Non-compete agreements with comparable brands

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