Corporate Eye

Zappos Employees as Brand Champions is an online shopping site that sells clothes, shoes, gift items and more.  It’s a site and company that has quickly gained a reputation for being a great place to shop online.  According to an article in Advertising Age this week, executives attribute the vast majority of that success to word-of-mouth marketing and leveraging employees as brand champions. 

The company even publishes a 300-page Zappos Culture Book each year that is jam-packed with stories from employees about how much they enjoy working at Zappos and what the Zappos culture means to them.   And these aren’t just the canned responses you usually read in annual reports.  These stories are heartfelt.

I’ve written about the importance of getting employee buy-in on your brand message and promise  on Corporate Eye before as well as allowing them to be positive faces of your brand, but Zappos has truly taken the theory to the next level and demonstrated that it really works (although they call it “people planning” as opposed to “branding from within” as I do)!

During a time when more and more corporations are jumping on the social media bandwagon and starting employee blogs, has 13 blogs, including the Inside Zappos blog and the Zappos CEO and COO blog. also uses online video showcased in the ZappoTV blog.  Each of these social media outlets helps to spread the word, but its the employees’ belief in the Zappos brand that makes the big difference between the Zappos blog and the Wal-Mart employees blog, CheckOut, for example.

If employee brand champions can work for, why can’t it work for your organization?  Take a cue from Zappos and start building your brand from within.  Create the ultimate brand guardians and brand champions from your employees, use the marketing tools and social media tools available to you to help spread the word to online and brand influencers, then back up your brand messages and your brand promise by truly delivering on them.

What do you think?  Can you do it?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.