Be Unique, Be Yourself, Be a Credit Union
By. Sharon Simpson, Ongoing Operations
If you have kids in elementary school, you may recognize the first part of this phrase: Be Unique, Be Yourself. This is the beginning of the tagline for the popular “Monster High” doll collection. At first I didn’t really get why these dolls were such a hit, but my daughters (10 and 7) have taken great care in introducing me to all they love about Monster High. The last part “Be a Monster” doesn’t really apply to credit unions, but the overall brand got me thinking about what makes this industry so special and why some institutions significantly outperform others.
Credit unions as a whole are incredibly authentic. From the leaders down to the frontline staff, credit union folks are genuinely committed to providing value to their members and serving the community. It was so refreshing to me to witness this difference firsthand after working for several years in the investment field. When members feel this authenticity from your organization, they are much more loyal and willing to become your advocates.
External factors, such as consumers’ interest in local financial institutions and their tiring of “big banks” certainly have played a role in recent growth, but some credit unions seem to reap much bigger benefits from these factors than others. Are these credit unions really more unique or just better at communicating their stories? And if so, how do you effectively tell your credit union’s story?
It starts by knowing what your story is. Not the story you’d like it to be (none of us are perfect) or the story du jour to capitalize on what’s trendy right now, but our own authentic story – who you are as an organization. Your unique history, how you serve your members and why the credit union difference drives all that you do.
One thing that has always attracted me to credit unions is their uniqueness. They may all share a common philosophy but each credit union I’ve gotten to know over the years has their own distinct personality. Some have cultures that have grown naturally from their major sponsor groups, while others have found their own niches within broader communities.
Either way, being unique and being your authentic self are two things that successful people and successful organizations seem to have in common.