What do your branches say about your credit union?

You may have already noticed the trend around town with popular fast food restaurants investing a lot of time and money updating their interior and exterior looks. KFC, Arby’s and Taco Bell are the latest.

And for good reason. Consumers, especially Millennials, give increasing importance towards the design, cleanliness and overall visual experience of restaurants and fast food joints don’t get a pass. Led by innovations in “fast casual” dining (such as Chipotle and Panera Bread), the trickle-down effect is forcing many older and established fast food locations to up the ante when it comes to design and appeal.

A similar scenario exists for many credit unions. For example, look at the typical credit union branch facility built sometime in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. What looked good then (retro cool aside) probably doesn’t align with consumer visual appetites now. And the advancing pace of technology alone (think flatscreen televisions, computer monitors and Wi-Fi access) necessitates many credit unions considering updating their looks.

What do your branches say about your credit union? Plenty, as it turns out. Your physical branches (along with your digital presence) are flagship statements about your brand. Often, before they even have a chance to interact with your staff, consumers will pass judgment on your credit union (and its worthiness of their time and trust) simply by the way your facilities appear.

The trend now definitely favors a break from the traditional brick-and-mortar “bank look” of the 20th century in favor of a radical 21st-century redesign. Modern credit union branches feature a much more retail-friendly look and open floor space, often eschewing the typical teller line and barrier desks with pods (such as Heart of Louisiana CU) or wall-free workstations. Similarly, walls once covered with static artwork are now often replete with flatscreen television monitors and digital banners. Other new concepts include the BBVA Compass “microbranch” and DuPont Community Credit Union’s open floor plan. A terrific example of a credit union employing high-tech and incorporating the surrounding community’s look and feel is found at the Beeville Branch of NavyArmy CCU.

While conducting marketing audits for credit unions, we make special note of the physical appearance and appeal (both interior and exterior). While the interaction and degree of consumer engagement experienced with staff inside is certainly vital to the overall member satisfaction experience, one cannot negate the importance of ambient qualities such as landscaping, design and cleanliness.

When fast food giants take notice of a rising consumer trend, it makes sense for credit unions to listen. After all, credit unions are just as much in the retail business as any fast food restaurant. Instead of fried chicken, loose meat sandwiches and tacos, we just happen to sell financial products and services.

Make no mistake about it — the physical appearance and overall quality of your branches matters and says a great deal about your brand and culture.


Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: www.markarnold.com Details