What is a Student Brand Ambassador?

Student marketing is having a resurgence, with big brands investing in major global programmes.

This form of marketing is now widely recognized as the ultimate way of creating meaningful connections with the important and financially-significant student market. It's coming of age at this point in time is no coincidence – rather, the effect is a heady cocktail of evolving behaviours, attitudes and technology.

Designing and crafting campaigns that engage students on campus, in culture and beyond is Seed’s DNA – it’s literally the seed of Seed.


  • Gen Z is calling the shots

    Exposed to over 5k marketing messages per day, students don’t want to be sold to but don’t mind being marketed with.

  • Everyone is a brand

    Young people are increasingly entrepreneurial and building their personal brands, knowledge and influence through their social media and beyond.

  • A shrinking circle of influence for Gen Z

    84% of students state they are most influenced by the recommendations of friends and family, vs only 44% who say the same of celebrities.

  • The Finsta Effect

    'Fake’ Instagram accounts with Gen Z’s ‘real’ friendship groups are where it all happens.

All of this means that there is increasing relevance and impact for marketing which can cut through the natural cynicism and connect in an authentic and useful way through the channels which actually influence this audience.

Why is Student Brand Ambassador marketing transformational for brands?

  • Brands Build Credibility
  • Hyper Relevance
  • Direct Access
  • Micro & Exponential Influence


#1 Design Audience First

Students live in dense tight-knit communities with a unique lifestyle and schedule meaning that student trends exist independently of wider Gen Z trends. Student life is very different in term 1 than in term 3 and priorities and obligations flex throughout the year. Understanding and empathising with students and their schedule ensure brands maximise impact and engagement.

>> Spotify’s All Year Long - Building unrivalled student loyalty.

#2 Create the right SBA Value Exchange

Being an SBA is not a full-time job and can fulfil the needs and goals of those involved in a variety of ways. Financial incentives help ensure that ambassadors are able to commit their time and energy, but lifestyle incentives are how we motivate SBAs to go above and beyond – and how we create a role that SBAs love.

>> RFU O2 Touch - Giving students a reason to be passionate.

#3 Give Value to the End User

The SBA value exchange doesn’t end at the relationship between universities, the SBA and the brand but extends to the students which the brand is seeking to influence through the programme.

For this reason, it’s vital that SBAs are not seen as a campaign per se, but as a conduit of influence through which to develop and deliver great and engaging campaign ideas. Your properly incentivized SBAs will engage their peers effectively with genuinely attractive ideas and interesting content. Interruptive or unconsidered projects will not cut through no matter who delivers them and SBA’s credibility will erode quickly if they are seen not to be adding value to their audiences.

>> Victoria’s Secret #BraFit Bus Tour - The talk of campus

#4 Let Them Own It

It takes guts to cede elements of your brand over to SBAs, but we have found that this is how brands see the biggest successes with the student audience. The foundation of SBA is an authentic peer to peer communication, therefore it works best when your message is packaged in the SBA tone of voice and you allow them to customize their approach to suit the needs of students in the audience as well as the needs of the brand.

Use SBAs consultatively to build your campaign as a natural bridge between the brand and student marketing worlds, they’re often best placed to feedback on what will and won’t resonate with students on the ground.

SBAs are an amazing agile campaign tool, once your campaign is live they can provide real-time feedback on perception and success to create a live loop allowing iteration and optimisation.

>> Soap and Glory Ambassadors - Creating genuine glambassadors

#5 Design with suitable intrinsic measurement

Influence can be a hard thing to measure so we have a general rule which is essentially this: if you can’t track your marketing effectively then we don’t recommend doing it.

Because we’ve seen the effectiveness of SBA as a marketing tool we want to ensure we have metrics iBecause we’ve seen the effectiveness of SBA as a marketing tool we want to ensure we have metrics in place to track the success of the work SBAs are doing.

For this, Seed uses our proprietary management and measurement platform, which allows us to create and track bitesize tasks and which SBAs can report directly into. However, it’s also important that the wider impact is considered. Therefore, we often use metrics such as test cells and incremental uplift to get a view of campaign effectiveness.

>>YouTube Premium Festival Truck - Tracking success by the day.

#6 Find Your Dream Team

This is all about finding the perfect ambassadors for your brand and the key attributes that we look for are: fans, customers of the brand, perfect brand fit, self-starters, outgoing, well-connected and entrepreneurial.

>> Nike Women’s 10k - Finding the perfect brand and audience fit.

#7 Invest and Do It Right

Doing SBA well is a commitment and it takes time and budget to set up an effective programme. However, once it’s in place these programmes can make a huge difference to the growth and brand outcomes. This is why we recommend taking a long-term view to all SBA programmes and investment.

SBA is not a channel for mass reach and a short sharp spike overnight, and whilst this will generate results with short-term objectives, where they become truly transformative is when SBAs are given the time to create momentum and build relationships, which can have long-lasting benefits.

Once a campaign is established, it can grow exponentially year on year, creating a platform which is far more than the sum of its parts.

>> Spotify's All Year Round - The benefit of long-term campaigns.


Seed is a student marketing agency that designs, develops, recruits and manages campaigns for some of the world’s biggest companies and brands across the UK, Europe and Globally.

Our network of over 10,000 student ambassadors connects us directly to the right people in the right places at the right time while providing unique insight and insights into what is relevant to students with the right creative to make an impact.

If you're considering your next student marketing brief, we're the agency for you!

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March 26th 2020