Developing a brand strategy is an essential component of marketing and a key to your credit union’s success. It solidifies how your credit union is viewed by members and those you are seeking to do business with. To be memorable, your credit union needs to go beyond creating a fancy logo, as branding represents everything you stand for and all that you are offering. When your brand is at work, it conjures up a positive recognition of who you are. This includes being known for great rates, loan products and services, and member service – and the ability to help members meet their financial goals.

This is a competitive world. Reaching members takes a multi-layered approach, and a solid brand identity helps members immediately define who you are to them. While branding should be an important part of any marketing plan, it is often viewed as one of the biggest challenges for credit unions.

A good brand strategy will help define several core components of your credit union’s business. Once you’ve gone through the process of defining who you are to your members, the resulting information can be used to develop better overall strategies for your credit union’s communications. Apply a laser focus to the process instead of taking a shotgun approach.

To get started, here are some questions to ask:

  • Objective: How will the brand identity support the purpose of the credit union?
  • Uniformity: How consistent is your credit union with the messaging that supports the brand?
  • Impact: Will the brand impact members in a way that allows them to connect with you, and then act?

The answers to these questions will create the foundation of your credit union’s unique brand strategy. Remember that your brand identity is the sum of who you are and what sets you apart from the competition.

How does branding impact your credit union’s business? In short, branding is the building block of what your credit union offers. When all that you offer doesn’t work together to reach one cohesive goal, the brand will depreciate. We have all witnessed this when customer service is lacking, a marketing campaign doesn’t deliver or information is not readily available, and the company suffers as a result.

It’s important to get the elements of branding in place in the correct order. Any branding efforts made prior to setting goals could be a waste of time or hold you back from moving your credit union forward. Build your brand on a foundation that doesn’t have cracks in it. This may require starting over. Before you begin, make sure everyone who needs to be part of the branding effort buys into their role, from member service and lending employees to the IT department. Branding includes your online presence and how quickly members can get to where they need to be. Every touch point for a member needs to be analyzed.

Take the following into consideration when creating your brand strategy:

Becoming more recognizable. It may be time to look at your logo. Does it need updating? Does it reflect what your credit union is to your members?

Determining what your current image conveys. Ask whether your marketing materials, logos and graphics are crisp and engaging. Don’t recycle old materials, as members are looking for fresh content and are eager to learn about what is new.

Trust. As a financial institution, there is nothing more important than your ability to convey trust to existing and potential members. A polished professional appearance relays trust. Why do financial institutions constantly update their appearance? Because doing so sends the message of legitimacy. This goes for all materials that reach members.

Advertising. Money spent on advertising will get a boost when brand awareness is also working to support the message. Your advertising message will be immediately recognizable and leave a strong, lasting impression.

Inspiration. When branding is done correctly, it excites those who work for the credit union. It inspires pride in the workplace, creating a better work environment and more dedicated employees.

Supporting growth. Using your brand to add value for members will increase business and make your credit union stickier to those who may have only been engaging with one product. Branding helps to expand your message, creating dialogue and helping members take notice of all your credit union offers.

The best way to establish your credit union as a leader in its market is through branding. Taking a hard look at the goals your credit union has in serving its community will greatly benefit your strategy. And when a multi-tiered approach is taken, your credit union will benefit now and in the future.

As cited in:
Credit Union Times

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