As we move toward a new year, it’s important to keep your credit union’s good reputation at the forefront of your business, HR, operations, marketing and community engagement initiatives. The Eight Reputation Enhancement Actions to Take offers credit union leaders guidance for the year ahead.
Looking back, 2022 brought in the Year of the Tiger. For many credit unions, being in the “eye of the tiger” required a laser-focus on achieving goals and outcomes to rise up from the pandemic in order to survive. While credit unions may be back and settled—and hopefully have a handle on its reputation—dynamic influences continue to impact the marketplace.
As we move into 2023, (incidentally, the year of the Rabbit) the year is predicted to be an eventful and regenerating period, with a focus on relationships—the core of most credit unions’ brand. Horoscopes aside, with the breadth of pressures on companies and their employees, it’s no surprise that more than half of our Eight Reputation Enhancement Actions to Take are people-centric this year.
Following these actions in the near-term can help you enhance, protect and defend your credit union’s valuable reputation as you continue to evolve its mission and brand.
Action 1: Listen to Your Staff and Foster Staff Pride.
Asking for a reputational assessment of your credit union from your staff can lend insight into their perceptions. Surveys and focus groups are a good way to do this. By posing open-ended questions, you can determine what improvements your employees think should be made.
Be diligent about implementing the top innovative ideas and be sure to point back to the team members who made the contributions. When employees feel heard and valued, their sense of pride and connection with the credit union becomes pervasive.
Action 2: Explore Web3.
As more companies enter Web3, the structure—expected to replace centralized, corporate platforms—will most likely be the future of doing business online by the end of the decade. According to Citi, the total market for the Metaverse could be between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030, with total users numbering around five billion.
Web3 brings the opportunity for reputation based on participation, allowing you to engage with communities online—and to own/control your consolidated reputation data. (See our blog for more details.)
Action 3: Highlight Your Leaders.
It’s no secret: the success of your credit union depends on your people. Showcasing the top talent on your executive management team, along with their unique accomplishments, can facilitate team-spirit. It’s okay to promote your superstars; their successes can inspire other employees.
Highlight your leaders internally before promoting them outside the credit union. While you want to encourage their leadership, you definitely don’t want them getting poached!
Action 4: Promote Thought Leadership.
Your leaders stand on the frontline of trends and issues. In addition to showcasing your people, be sure to highlight their visions and missions. As a credit union with creative, innovative thinkers, how you are navigating challenges can stoke essential conversations to ensure your good reputation drives the future of your credit union.
Action 5: Establish a Chief Trust Officer.
This past summer the World Economic Forum declared that every company needs a Chief Trust Officer, stating that as Web3 gains momentum, brands with an online presence will be rooted in their community’s trust and perception of them.
We’ve been encouraging companies to hire a Chief Reputation Officer for years (see our blog for more details). If you haven’t done so yet, 2023 is the year to add another feather to your reputation cap with the hire of this essential member of your executive management team.
Action 6: Enhance Social Awareness and Action.
The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that most people believe businesses are not doing enough to fix societal problems. The report showed that, as trust in government continues to spiral, there is a greater expectation for businesses to lead the charge. 65 percent of respondents believe businesses can (and should) successfully execute plans and strategies to fix societal problems, with only 42 percent having faith in the government to make successful changes.
When it comes to social awareness, sometimes taking a stance against something is necessary. If you choose to stay silent, people may infer something that isn’t your credit union’s stance. This can create a crisis management situation for your reputation.
Action 7: Engage the Board about your Reputation.
Boards of directors at credit unions historically operated behind closed doors, unseen and unknown to the outside world. By most accounts, the board did not have a public reputation of its own. This is changing. During a crisis, while the reputation of the credit union is at stake, a board of directors has its own reputation to consider as well. (See our blog for more details.)
When it comes to reputation management, engage your board in tracking your reputation benchmarks. Scoring your reputation and measuring it year-over-year can show you whether you are making improvements, or going backwards.
Action 8: Insure Reputation Risks.
While your best defense against reputational risk is advanced planning, a reputational crisis can happen to any business. Global exposure to cybersecurity breaches; terrorism; political risks; product contamination; supply chain and product distribution disruption; and adverse media coverage all pose potential threats.
Loss of reputation is a real risk for any brand. Insurance agencies now recognize this risk and underwrite it like any other threat. The global top-fifty companies have nearly $11 trillion of intangible assets, according to the Howden “Insuring the Invisible,” report published by the insurance broker in April 2021. (See our blog on for more details.)
If your credit union has not yet done a reputation assessment, your reputation may seem nebulous. But once you get a handle on it, good reputation management comes down to active oversight. Identifying potential impacts before they happen, and mitigating crisis through planning and training, can help your credit union identify vulnerabilities before they become financial and/or operational liabilities.
Engaging your people in the reputation conversation, and celebrating their contributions—from your frontline staff, to leadership and your board—can help you enhance your reputation in 2023. When your whole team works together, your successes multiply together.