When it comes to the ways you go about achieving your credit union’s annual business goals, one area of importance that I’m willing to bet oftentimes receives the least amount of attention is your brand. Your credit union brand is what puts money in your coffers and brings members through the doors. It shapes their loyalty and degree of participation in the services you provide.
Simply put, your brand is the impressions and feelings produced by the overall experience of your organization—all the member touch points—from top to bottom. Such impressions and feelings can generate overwhelming demand for your products and services, even prompting your members to encourage others to do business with you. On the other hand, these impressions and feelings can also fuel a flight-to-market should they ever be misperceived or become tarnished.
Knowing how all-pervasive a brand can be and how it exerts such considerable influence over sales, shouldn’t we all be lining up to learn every tip and secret we can about this golden asset?
To help initiate the discussion, here are my "3 Keys to Branding Success."
1. ensure AUTHENTICity
Practice what you preach. Touting the virtues and value of credit unions and why they make for a better choice than a bank as a financial services provider while at the same time opting to use a bank as a provider of services to your credit union does not necessarily convey a commitment worthy of adulation to the cooperative business model.
Contradictions in what you say and do are easy to spot, and like a cancer are deadly to a brand and its ability to convey trust in an organization that’s supposedly rooted in cooperative values and ethical behavior.
2. BE COMPREHENSIVE
Brand is much more than a slogan. It is all about the way credit unions do business.
Your brand is influenced by every aspect of your co-op’s environment — your communications, your behavior both at the credit union and in the community, your Internet presence, your bricks and mortar, your products and services, their ease of use and the value they provide, the soundness and strength of your balance sheet, and how you greet and treat your members, your vendors, your staff and the folks you meet on the street.
Numerous factors contribute to the experience and perception of your organization. Utmost care and guidance must be given to each for they all contribute in their own distinct way to your brand experience.
3. NOURISH YOUR BRAND
How you nourish and influence your brand will essentially dictate how it will nourish you.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways, from innovative PR campaigns to educational activities among your staff, designed to enhance the cooperative culture of your shop.
Always conduct a review of your performance in these three key areas at each month’s meeting of your executive team and I assure you, your brand will generate a host of rewards for your credit union and its balance sheet.
Walt Laskos is principal of The Laskos Group in Temecula, Calif.