Recently, there has been a growing debate amongst marketers in regards to just how effective influencers are to helping grow a brand. One of the arguments I’ve heard from a C-Suite executive that doesn’t believe influencer marketing is effective is that “With enough ad spend, the advertising alone is all the influence that a brand needs.”

I totally disagree with that notion. I believe that at some point, every brand in the marketplace will need an influencer to contribute to its growth. Choosing the right influencer can enable a brand to grow exponentially.

Take a second, and think of the most popular brand that you know of. I’m pretty sure you can think of a celebrity closely associated with that brand. Whether it’s Microsoft, Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, Disney, or Amazon. At some point, all of those brands have turned to an influencer to help increase awareness and favorable brand attitude.

The key to influencer marketing is identifying which type of influencer is the most effective for your particular brand. No matter what kind of brand it is, I’ve found that every brand will need at least one of these four types of influencers at some point in order to maximize awareness.

Someone from the cool table

It’s amazing how even after high school, we still socially gravitate towards many of the same dynamics that we did in high school as far as our approach to those that influence us. And in just about every high school, there was a table where the “cool” kids hung out at lunch (that’s if your school didn’t have off-campus lunch options). Those that sat at the cool kids table were usually students that were the best athletes, the prettiest girls, and those with the most dominant personalities.

In branding, like in high school — these types of influencers usually have the largest followings. They also can have the biggest impact on a brand’s sales. They’re the types of influencers that almost everyone wants to be like — or be with. And because of that, their endorsement alone can propel a brand that wants to be perceived as hip and trendy.

Think of celebrity personalities like:

The Rock, Kim Kardashian, Drake, Taylor Swift, Lebron James, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande, Stephen Curry, and Rihanna.

The “Great Hang”

In college, on the last day of the semester, my entrepreneurship professor once gave us students a speech in class about some of the most important things he’s learned in life and things that he wishes he knew when he was in his 20’s. One of the things he said that he learned later in life that helped him become a successful entrepreneur and a better person was how to become a “Great Hang”.

He described a great hang as being someone that people loved to see whenever they walked in the door. Someone who you’d like to be around even if you were having a terrible day. This is the person who everyone wants to see come to the office party. The type of person that you would love to take a road trip with because you know you’ll have a great time and you could trust them. The type of person who makes you feel better every time you hear from them.

The influencers that meet this criteria are typically universally loved for either their comedic nature, or their easy-going attitude. They’re rarely — if ever, controversial and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Which is another reason why the masses love them. These types of celebrities can appeal to family-oriented brands because they’re considered safe and trustworthy.

Think of celebrity personalities like:

Anthony Anderson, Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Cameron Diaz, Kevin Hart, Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin James, and Kelly Ripa.

The Smarties

Smarties are the types of influencers that are known and trusted primarily for their intellect and maturity. The smarties are distinguished, assertive, and regarded as intellectual leaders. Smarties are ideal influencers for brands that seek to be perceived as highbrow.

Think of celebrity personalities like:

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Mayim Bialik, Dr. Oz, and Kate Beckinsale.

The Rebels

Sticking with the high school theme, I present to you the rebel. The rebel is the type of influencer that plays by their own rules in spite of popular opinion. They laughed at the kids sitting at the cool table. And they couldn’t care less about what you think of them and they show it every chance they get. The rebel is pretty much the opposite of the Great Hang. They’re the type of person that you probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time with if you don’t like to hear about any flaws you may have.

However, it’s because of this unruly attitude that most rebels develop a following of people who share their defiant nature, or wish that they had the bravado to say what was really on their mind and not care about popular opinion like the rebel does.

These types of influencers work best for brands that don’t mind being perceived as edgy. They’re also very unpredictable (which adds to their allure). They often have the most dedicated followers because their followers see their wins as a win of their own against the status quo. Their followers can relate to not being invited to the cool table and they carry that underdog mentality with them. Rebels are great for brands that want to convey disruption.

Think of celebrity personalities like:

Kanye West, Katy Perry, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Demi Lovato, 50 Cent, Madonna, Simon Cowell, Cardi B, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Travis Scott and Sarah Silverman.

Choosing your brand’s type of influencer

There’s no question of whether a brand should or shouldn’t embrace influencer marketing at some point. As your brand grows, influencer marketing will become inevitable to maximize awareness (even presidential candidates seek celebrity endorsements and photo-ops).

The key is finding which of the four types of influencers listed above would be the most advantageous to align your brand with…and which types to avoid. In order to do that, you and your team should write down a list of celebrities that personify your brand’s identity. Then go from there.

For example, if you’re running a marketing campaign for a clothing brand that wants to stand out from the crowd and don’t mind being perceived as edgy, you’d probably want to lean towards recruiting a rebel influencer to endorse your brand.

If your brand is a QSR (quick service restaurant), you should bring in a great hang influencer to emphasize warmth and a fun outing amongst friends and family to your customers. FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands should utilize an influencer from the cool kids table. A pharmaceutical brand should probably go with a smartie influencer to ensure trust and safety to the consumer.

Regardless of the size of your brand, eventually — you’re going to need to bring in an influencer to help expand awareness and cultivate perception. As long as you choose the right influencer, from the right category for your brand — you’ll be most likely to succeed.