by: Eric Gagliano, SVP Client Management, MarketMatch
Everything has a brand … that instant thought that helps us to categorize everything in our lives.
In reality, we have two brands … the one that is perception and the one that’s reality or proven in execution:
“All Rottweilers are vicious.”
“All Poodles are sweet lap dogs.”
Most Rotties I’ve met are loving, loyal creatures and I’ve met plenty of Poodles that would gladly take your arm off.
You need to be aware of, and manage, BOTH brands of your credit union. Here’s how.
First, What Is A Brand? A brand is defined as the sum of all rational and emotional aspects of a company, product, service, person, dog … whatever. A brand seeks to be recognized and strives to differentiate itself from competing factors in the marketplace…simply put, to stand out and be known.
So what does this mean? Your members come in contact with the credit union in many ways. They walk into your branch, conduct online transactions, use your ATMs, receive your newsletter and pick up your brochures. Each encounter a member has with you makes an impression. The combined impressions help the member to form perceptions about your credit union – what they like and don’t like, what you are good at and what they wish you would do better. The total of these perceptions is your credit union’s brand.
The Brand Promise The ultimate goal is to use detailed strategic research and analysis to identify a Brand Promise, for your credit union. This Brand Promise will drive every management decision and staff interaction moving forward.
Through detailed research and analysis, you should create a Brand Promise based in:
- Rational features
- Reasons to believe
- Competitive dissection
- Emotional and relevant benefits
- Aspirational messaging that is believable and achievable
Example: We will make banking valuable again. We treat your financial matters as our own, helping you move forward … one financial decision at a time.
Reflection A brand can be successful when it finds the space where Market Need, Competitive Weakness and your credit union’s personality overlap. To do this, takes research … the kind that identifies existing perceptions, processes and goals.
- Conversations with senior management and internal surveys with senior management and front-line staff
- Interviews with selected individuals of importance to the credit union (key members, SEG groups, etc.)
- Focus groups with staff and members
- Competitive analysis (More information on competitive shops)
- Complete a telephone study of members and potential members
Analyze internal surveys, focus groups and telephone survey results for patterns, agreement, issues and challenges.
Create Brand Strategy From the results of the surveys, focus groups and staff & management input, you can:
- Detail your credit union’s Brand Attributes: the instant thought that people have about you. Are you caring? Safe? Conservative?
- State your Values: the guiding voice that defines how you act and how you make decisions.
- Outline your Mission: What you do and whom you do it for.
- Define the Brand Essence: the soul of the brand – the central meaning behind whom and what your credit union is and how it acts.
- Create your credit union’s Positioning: the space your credit union will seek to own in member’s hearts and minds. This is an internal statement that provides inspiration for product development, marketing communication and staff hiring and training.
- Create Brand Expression or “Personality”: the human characteristics that embody the brand, setting the tone for the attitude of the brand.
- Create the Brand Promise
Execution Once you understand who you are and who you’d like to be, you can focus on the expression of that brand:
- Brand theme development
- Graphical brand expression of logo
Creating your brand story: the 30-second “commercial” of who you are. This should be common knowledge to your entire staff and should include:
- Brand Promise integration
- Common elements of the organization
- Why you are here
- What separates you from the competition
- Why is it important to the member
- Why is it good for that member
Your credit union’s brand experiences must be consistent at every single member touch-point.
So, that’s it! In 700 words or less, how you can manage your own rebranding. It certainly is helpful to call in a third party to help provide an objective point of view. But, by following these steps, you’ll have all of the pieces for a sound, strategic brand platform.
Eric Gagliano is a leading credit union marketer with more than 17 years of marketing experience. Coming from the advertising agency world, as an account executive focused on strategic planning, branding, market research, and product promotion, Eric joined the credit union world in 2002 as the VP of Marketing at River Valley CU in Dayton, Ohio. As SVP of MarketMatch, Eric lives and breathes the credit union movement. He has enjoyed great success in increasing brand awareness, member growth, and services per member for clients across the country. Eric is a frequently requested speaker for groups such as the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, MAC, and numerous state associations. www.WeKnowCreditUnions.com