Opinion: Don't tie yourself to a brand in college

Brand ambassadorships may seem appealing, but students should build their personal brand in other ways

Want to represent Tinder and make some quick cash? Want to be a Nike rep for the semester?

The opportunity to become a brand ambassador is bigger now than ever, especially for college students. 

The issue is that most college students aren't thinking about the implications these partnerships will have on their ever-important 'personal brand' as opposed to the immediate reward that they’ll receive from these large companies.

Students should stray away from brand ambassadorships, unless they align themselves with the exact values of the brand or company they seek to represent. 

Many companies, from Tinder to Monster Energy, are targeting students who have a following on social media and can be seen as relatable to the University audience. Whether that is through events on campus or ongoing social media campaigns, the brands' motives are to create outreach through their ambassadors.

Again, this goes back to the personal brands that students, regardless of their major, should focus on throughout their college career. 

Even though some companies market to students that they can use the ambassadorship as a resume booster, if the student does not consider their personal brand and values, that resume booster may hinder more than help.

Alex Lyman said in a piece for the Huffington Post, "We all know about product branding and how much damage one wrong move can cause. It’s a great lesson for us all to give some thought to our personal branding. Investing in yourself will be some of the most important work you do."

Compensation may seem helpful as well for busy college students that may not have the time for traditional jobs. However, much of the job is outreach on campus through tabling and long events for different campaigns being held by the brand.


Douglas Olsen, an associate professor in the department of marketing at the W. P. Carey School of Business, said there can be benefits to brand ambassadorships if the brand ambassador's values align with the company's.

Olsen said that companies may find more credibility through seeking people similar to their audience to send a message so "that we perceive that the message is coming from someone that’s either similar to us or someone that we admire and that we relate to." 

He also discussed what the implications for brand ambassadorships can mean for students. 

"You are really linking your name with that brand," Olsen said. 

Stacey Ross Cohen wrote in the Huffington Post that, "Our individual brands define who we are in the workforce — they guide our career paths and have an indelible impact on our financial future. In short, they’re one of the most important aspects of professional life."

In many majors, there is a push to be the most unique student to prospective employers.

However, brand ambassadorships can't be the most effective way for a student to be their most 'appealing' and unique self as there are internships and fellowship programs that are always available. Building content through blogs, websites and other platforms are alternatives to these ambassadorships. 

If a brand doesn't support something that you support, people can assume that these are the values you align with — and this can negatively impact you later on.

Think twice before accepting that brand ambassadorship. Your personal brand may be impacted later. 


Reach the columnist at mfoxall@asu.edu and follow @mayafoxall on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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