How to overcome cliche storytelling in your credit union videos

A common discussion point for credit unions is learning effective ways to differentiate their brand in a commoditized marketplace.

Sometimes, the question is asked about how a credit union is different from the competitor down the street. Or in a digital economy, how is a credit union positioning itself against neobanks like Simple and Moven?

Now as I do in much of my writing, let’s take this conversation back to video production.

How is your credit union using videos to differentiate yourself in a humanized digital economy?

In my research for several upcoming events, webinars and workshops I have reviewed a lot of credit union videos over the past month.

A lot.

And out of these videos, the vast majority of them looked and sounded like one another. In other words, there was no differentiation. And in some cases, I could simply swap out a logo from one credit union for another and one would not know the difference.

As we stated before, the videos you are producing for your credit union are a reflection of your brand positioning. If you have strong positioning, that should be reflected in the videos you are producing.

For the most part, though, the same stories are being told in these videos. And with the same stories, the same cliché imagery is used.

Exterior panning shots of the branches.

Smiling employees working the teller line.

And the worst shot of all… the handshake.

You know the shot that I’m talking about. A happy couple walks into the branch and is greeted by a credit union representative with a smile and a handshake. Sometimes, there’s even a close up of this action, symbolizing the trust and helping nature of the credit union.

Just like it is time to stop positioning credit unions around great rates and service, it’s time to stop using this cliché imagery.

No more branch exteriors.

No more teller lines.

No more handshakes.

Look, I understand that banking is not the most sexy industry when it comes to visual imagery. But that’s just an excuse.

Now these cliché shots are just a symptom of the problem.

The problem really originates from the stories credit unions are trying to tell.

Who’s the central character, or hero, of the stories you are telling through the videos you are producing?

Most likely, it’s your credit union, as you promote great rates and great service delivered by happy employees with firm handshakes.

But in a commoditized marketplace, banks and credit unions can not build a strong market position with these commoditized features. In fact, they are the same undifferentiated features that your competitor is offering.

Instead, we recommend that credit unions explore flipping convention on its head.

Make the member the hero, or the central character of the story.

What do we mean by this?

In basic story structure, a main character has to overcome some obstacle to achieve a goal.

To relate this back to the credit union industry, a member could have a goal of wanting to buy a house, but the obstacle is they do not have the funds to complete the purchase or have been denied a loan at other financial institutions. This is where the credit union steps into the story.

In this revised story structure, the credit union should only serve as the guide that provides knowledge and insight to the main character, which ultimately helps the member achieve their goal.

But many times, credit unions perceive themselves as the hero, relegating the member to a supporting role. And this is where the storytelling method goes awry.

Consumers identify with other consumers, not your financial institution. Or as I say in my presentations, it’s a lot easier for a consumer to relate to a fellow human than to an amorphous organization.

Next time when producing a video for your credit union, explore the basics of storytelling and make the member the central focus of the story. By doing so, you can begin producing videos that connect with the human element within all of us. And ultimately, you can begin to tell stories that sell that have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

As Senior  Advisor at CU Grow, Jonathan Lay helps banks and credit unions use digital marketing to tell stories that sell. He brings over a decade of digital marketing experience ... Web: Details