Branding Is More Than a Sharp Logo: Editor-in-Chief's Column
Branding goes well beyond the colors in your logo or glossy brochures. Branding is everything, from your website to the employees in your branch. Branding must be part of overall strategic planning and then that plan must be clearly communicated and reinforced to all employees every day.
I called the main number of a large credit union this week. I was on hold for a couple of minutes, and then a member service representative transferred me to the line I had requested. I was on hold another five minutes before I got disconnected. I called back and was on hold nearly another eight minutes–the hold music was awful–before an MSR got to me. This time I was connected. This experience is your brand to me now.
If I were a member of this credit union, I would be livid. And if it happened again, I’d consider moving my money. Truly putting the members first means bottom-up thinking from the top on down.
Bethpage FCU studied what people thought of the credit union and what consumers wanted and surveyed what others were doing for years. Bethpage fixed what members and nonmembers indicated needed fixing, including employee training, before the credit union got down to the minutiae of colors and mascots.
Once that was decided on, the pomp and circumstance of unveiling a new brand promoted a comprehensively rebranded organization. Over the years this took place, Bethpage and CEO Kirk Kordeleski were recognized as highly influential in the community.
Doing things right, like ensuring callers don’t endure several minutes of 1980s elevator music and fixing problems when they occur, is also branding. It can guide you to your sharp logo and pithy tagline.
As such, those who come second to your members in your credit union are your frontline employees–whether in-branch, over the phone or online. Invest time and money in mentoring and training them. If they are great with people and want to stay on that frontline, help them become the best they can be.
Employees that would like to climb the credit union ladder should be encouraged to work toward that goal without supervisors’ egos getting in the way. It can be hard not to feel threatened when someone who reports to you receives recognition for good work. Ultimately, however, managers are judged by the performance of their staff. The ability to recruit and retain the right people at all levels is crucial to achieving long-term success.
The Wall Street Journal apparently did not have the right people heading up its European operation. The publisher of WSJ Europe was the subject of an internal probe that found that he had pushed for favorable articles involving a company that WSJ Europe had business relations with and was helping to artificially inflate WSJ Europe circulation numbers.
It was incredible brand damage to such a venerable publication to fail so miserably at the basic tenet of maintaining a solid division between editorial content and advertising: Journalism 101.
To its credit, WSJ dug in to its own story very critically. The paper’s swift move to right the wrong will help re-earn the trust of readers.
At Credit Union Times, we provide “Trusted News for Credit Union Leaders." That means we’re ever watchful of the line the WSJ crossed. We’re clear on what we provide and for whom.
We have steered our editorial content toward trends and bigger picture articles that bring the message home directly to credit unions. CU Times has also launched the Trailblazers 40 Below program to recognize up and coming leaders in the credit union industry so our readers can see what some young executives are doing to move the credit union community into the future. Don’t miss out on the talents these bright, energetic people and be sure to mentor them through their career journey.
Credit unions have been female-friendly. CUNA data show that 57% of CEOs are women. However, you see predominantly female CEOs in the CUs under $50 million in assets, and then it suddenly flips to predominantly men. The ratio is 74% male to 26% female at credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets. Meanwhile 57% of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. are earned by women along with 58% of graduate degrees, Womenomics states.
But hiring women, or diversifying in anyway, is good business. Catalyst, the New York research group found that companies with the highest representation of women in their senior management teams achieved a 35% higher return on equity and a 34% higher return to shareholders than companies with the lowest female representation. Glass Ceiling Research Centre reported that the 25 Fortune 500 companies with the best record for promoting women to senior positions posted returns 18% higher and returns on investment, 69% percent higher than the median.
CU Times is looking ahead so that you can too. In light of the shifting demographics, we’ve launched Women to Watch, a program to honor women at all stages in their careers at credit unions of all asset sizes that are being creative and pushing their credit unions forward. We’ve named five. Be sure to make your nominations at CUTimes.com/W2W by the Oct. 19 deadline. That’s leadership and that’s our brand.