Does your brand need a refresh?

A 3-step audit to evaluate your brand

Spring is a time of new growth and renewal, which is a serendipitous time to think about your brand. On average, a brand identity is updated slightly or even overhauled, every seven years. There are a variety of reasons why credit unions need to reevaluate brand identity. For some, it is about differentiating your credit union in the market or strengthening market position to contend with new competition. Other credit union leaders choose to refresh their brands to attract more members or to entice a different demographic profile. And for others, it may simply be that your credit union’s brand is looking a little dated…or maybe a lot.

In order to know if it is time to refresh your credit union’s brand, we need to make sure we all know what a brand really is. While many people think of a logo and a tagline as a brand, it really is so much more than that. A brand is who you are as a credit union and who you aspire to be. That image is then communicated through all media and aspects of the credit union experience to engage members with all five senses. A brand is your credit union’s identity, essence, and tone of voice; it is the personality of your credit union.

The expression of this personality is important to your business success, internally and externally. The strength of the internal connection to the brand supports the recruitment and retention of the best employees. Your employees are your brand ambassadors, they live and breathe your brand. The external impact of the brand is how you’re viewed by your members and members of the community. It is what differentiates your credit union from the competition, and quite honestly the ‘noise’ of other brands we’re exposed to every day.

So, now it is time to ask yourself–Is it time for a brand refresh? While understanding the basic definition of a brand helps, it will take a little analysis to evaluate if you are on-brand, if you have consistent brand messaging across all channels and if that message is reaching the desired member demographic. In order to evaluate the status of your brand, it is important to conduct a brand audit.

  • Begin by gathering all marketing and brand related materials:
  • A good breadth of your marketing communications, both print and digital (print examples of your digital items)
  • Photos of your credit union employees volunteering at community events
  • Examples of your corporate attire or logo wear
  • Photos of the interior and exterior of your buildings
  • Now lay all the examples out on a table. Use a critical eye, like you’re looking at this information for the first time. Ask yourself:
  • Is everything consistent? Is it consistently good? Because it could be consistently not so good.
  • Is it relevant? Does it speak to who your membership currently is and who you want your membership to be?
  • Is it exciting? Or is it tired?
  • Is it fresh and current? Or is it dated and boring?
  • Does all of this speak to who you are as a credit union and who you aspire to be?
  • Does it reflect a point of view and personality?
  • There are other intangible parts of this audit process that are important to evaluate. Honestly, answer the following:
  • Do members experience a similar level of service across the credit union?
  • Are members greeted similarly on the phone and in person?
  • Are your members greeted the same by different employees?
  • How do your members feel and what do they experience when they walk in the door of your branch?
    • What do they see?
    • What do they smell?
    • Is there something for them to taste – perhaps some coffee or a snack?
    • What do they hear? (Are they greeted? Is it quiet? Is there music?)
    • What do they feel – both textures of the finishes and their emotional response to the experience?
    • Are the branches consistent with each other?

This exercise is about exploring your brand on a deeper level and providing insight into some of its strengths and weaknesses. Understand that a brand isn’t developed overnight. It is nurtured with time. And it must be evaluated often to keep it on track and growing. You aren’t alone in the brand journey, your employees are your brand, so tap into that collective knowledge base of brand ambassadors to nurture it.

The true test of brand success is how your members engage with the brand. When your credit union is on-brand, you will experience financial success—you will be engaging your desired members and increasing the products and services they use.

Kim Melka

Kim Melka

Kim Melka, La Macchia Group’s Director – Brand Strategy + Interior Design, has an extensive background in the interior design and branding of financial institutions, retail and corporate environments. She has ... Web: Details