The financial industry, especially credit unions, is at an interesting crossroads. Historically, credit unions have stood as the friendly alternative to big banks. In fact, when surveyed, employees at credit unions large and small, in every community across the country, nearly universally identify “friendly” as one of their organization’s top traits.
But while friendliness is certainly a virtue, it’s not enough. Not anymore. With evolving consumer expectations, and fierce competition coming from new directions, being friendly simply won’t cut it. What’s needed now is a brand that stands out—a brand that’s bold, differentiating, and compelling.
So how does a credit union build such a high functioning brand? Branding goes beyond a catchy tagline or a recognizable logo. It’s about creating an emotional connection. If your brand doesn’t evoke a strong reaction, it’s easy to blend into the background.
But what should that emotional connection be? It needs to start with the authentic purpose of your credit union, what drives your culture. Uncovering and articulating your brand is a process that needs to start from the inside. And it isn’t a tagline or slogan, it’s the “why” for your organization – something to genuinely believe in and rally around. When a credit union has a clear, unifying purpose, magic can happen:
- Employee engagement: When staff understand and believe in the shared purpose, they are more motivated and engaged.
- Member loyalty: People can sense authenticity.
- Differentiation: A strong purpose separates you from competitors.
Developing a unique and powerful purpose-driven brand requires introspection. Have you ever felt slightly uncomfortable with a decision? That usually means you’re pushing boundaries. This discomfort, when channeled correctly, can set you miles apart from competitors.
The financial landscape is shifting. To stay ahead, credit unions need to be more than just friendly. But, it’s not just about being different—it’s about making a difference. The authentic difference that only your organization can make.