Back in the day the standard to having the ultimate brand recognition was making your brand a “household name” meaning it would become a staple or necessity in homes, such as Kleenex and Band-Aids. Today, the standard is making it a verb, that is your brand becomes the word that names the action that is being taken. We no longer ask did you research it, we ask did you “Google” it. And in the payments space, we have observed the PayPal owned Venmo, the peer-to-peer (P2P) payment option of choice for many millennials, achieve this status in a relatively short period of time. We now say “Venmo” me the money.
This is good for Venmo but at least one of the other P2P payment options, Zelle, continues to struggle with brand recognition despite showing robust growth. In a recent article titled “P2P Study: Zelle Growing, Brand Recognition Is Not” by Tina Orem, she reported that “[Zelle] Users moved $33.6 billion in the first half of the year …”, yet “… few people know what Zelle is, according to a study released in July from student loan company LendEDU.”.
Not all brands will or can become a verb but it is important to know what steps to take to achieve the ultimate brand recognition. Zelle has already taken a big step by launching a mobile payment app that moves the technology from behind the scenes inside mobile banking apps to the forefront, which will help to increase visibility and usage. But the statistics above show that brand recognition is not an easy feat even for brands that are financially successful. Such is the case for many credit unions. CU marketers will want to take a strategic approach in building recognition around their brand and keeping them “top of mind” within their target markets.
The products and services that a credit union provides may vary but there are certain basic ingredients that must be present in building brand recognition in today’s dynamic and competitive environment. Here are a few that we learned from Venmo and Zelle that may also work well for credit unions.
- Create a cool and innovative product – One of the reasons why Venmo gained quick popularity with millennials is due to the fact that the app tapped into the social media craze and created a product with an interactive user experience, complete with emojis. It moved beyond payments to a social platform and with social interaction came an increase in user engagement. If your CU is not actively engaging with members on social media you need to start now. Create and post content that encourages conversation and monitor religiously to handle any queries or concerns members may have. You should also ensure that your website operates like a functional and interactive virtual branch. Find out how you can incorporate a chat feature that allows responses to real time questions, and throw in some emojis if you can. You could also consider a chatbot that recommends products and services or guides users through a loan process. This is a sure way to tap into a younger demographic!
- Ask yourself, “what need(s) am I filling?” – Venmo has made splitting the bill easier for millennials and baby boomers alike. Whether it is paying for pizza; roommates exchanging money for utilities/rent; paying for vacation with friends or collecting rent from a tenant; there are many who now have no idea how they lived without Venmo. What product or service could you create to benefit an underserved demographic in your community? Could you create a special product or program to help millennials grow their credit while paying off student loans and saving for big ticket items?
- Ensure that your product is functionally sound – With a next business day model, Venmo is quick and hassle-free. Also, sign up is easy; there are not many steps in the transaction; a credit/debit card or bank account can be used as funding source and payments will go through whether there are sufficient funds in your Venmo balance or not. If funds are insufficient, the balance will be taken from the funding source automatically. How’s that for convenience?! Go through your application processes as a consumer not an internal staff member and focus on the customer experience. If you find it cumbersome and inconvenient, chances are your members will feel the same way.
- Work continuously on maintaining security and keeping users’ information safe – One major thing that Zelle took seriously from the beginning and got right was building in security measures from the ground up. This may have a lot to do with the banks and credit unions behind this technology. Fraud is possibly the one issue that your members fear the most and is certainly what keeps CU executives up at nights. So, why not put everyone at ease by investing in fraud monitoring protection policies, Identity Theft Protection, Zero Liability Protection, alerts regarding suspicious behavior and more. If you have already invested in most or all of these tools, continue to educate and remind your members that you have them in place and the role they have to play in making these tools work effectively for all.
- Stay abreast of your users wants and needs – The Venmo model was built on innovation as it pioneered the social payments concept and continues to look for ways to build on that. It is important to keep innovation constant. CU marketers must consistently review products and services, as well as the market and look for ways to improve what they have or design new and fresh solutions by looking ahead. Find out what the next best thing is and anticipate the challenges that lie ahead that may affect your members and design an innovative product that offers a solution.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but valuable tips that should guide CU marketers as they craft their strategies to build brand recognition among the various target markets. Do you have any tips to share? We would love to hear what has worked for you and your CU.