Relatively few businesses even consider their workforce as a resource for brand awareness. As a result, you won't likely find many employees interested in putting forth the extra effort to promote — to customers, friends and family members alike — their company as the best in the world at what it does.

But wouldn't it be great if your employees felt that strongly about your business? What's the secret to making employee brand champions?

Your employees can make promising candidates to serve as brand champions. Here are tips on how to cultivate and leverage their enthusiasm.

Build an Open and Positive Culture

No employee will promote your brand if their work environment is restrictive or micromanaged. But even checking off the boxes for competitive wages and generous flex-time isn't enough these days.

"No one gives you special points for meeting the bare minimum requirements of a decent employer," writes Pratik Dholakiya at Small Business Trends. "What does earn strong employee loyalty is a work culture that is open and communicative ... and does away with unnecessary hierarchies and closed doors."

Educate Employees

Arm your workforce with a comprehensive understanding of your brand, from its history to its values and strategic vision. It just makes good business sense that employees be deeply knowledgeable about their company, particularly if they are interfacing with customers.

Just as important, share advance information about the business with employees. Whether it's a new product launch, a website redesign or a new branch opening, when employees are informed ahead of time, they feel part of the exciting changes and can "tease" the public in ways that feel more authentic than a press release or advertisement.

Encourage Social Media Usage

Some businesses are so nervous about employees posting content about their companies that they develop stringent policies that discourage favorable mentions. A better approach might be to actively encourage employee brand champions to spread the word about your brand on their own social networks, as well as on your company's Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and to celebrate the brand on Twitter. Why not invite employees to contribute to the company blog from time to time, as well? They'll offer a unique perspective that customers can relate to.

Reward Enthusiasm

You can't run a business by giving your product away for free to customers, but offering special employee (and family) discounts is a great way to reward their brand champion efforts. Internal recognition, such as a note from the CEO or a public salute at an all-staff meeting, are other strong motivators.

There's probably no more convincing advertisement for your brand than an enthusiastic workforce. Make them proud champions and you just may reap the benefits!

Tags: Brand Awareness brand building employee enthusiasm Social Media Employee champion