Is your credit union an ‘a’ brand or a ‘the’ brand?

As a native Texan, there are a lot of things I get excited about. High school football, good BBQ and the oil and gas industry are among them. Also high on my list are the Dallas Cowboys and my favorite soft drink – Dr Pepper (yes, you read that right – there is no “.” after the Dr in “Dr Pepper”).

I noticed this year that Dr Peppper is “An Official Soft Drink of the Cowboys,” not “The Official Soft Drink of the Cowboys.”

Again, you read that correctly. “An” official soft drink of the Cowboys. Not “the” official soft drink of the Cowboys.

Of course, I wasn’t privy to all the closed-door bigwig marketing meetings where this decision was made. It just seems odd and, well, self-deprecating to the Dr Pepper brand. It’s a lot like saying in high school that you are “an official date of the homecoming queen” as opposed to “the one and only date of the homecoming queen.” Sure, it’s great you’re going out with her – but wouldn’t it be a lot cooler and offer a lot more personal brand cred if you were the only guy she was going to the game and dance with?

This seems to be the case with Dr Pepper. They are not the official drink of the Dallas Cowboys – only an official drink. And what’s the value in that? It doesn’t seem to promote the integrity of the Dr Pepper brand.

Would you want this for your credit union’s brand?

For example, would you promote your credit union as “one of the many financial institutions spending a lot of marketing dollars trying to capture consumer business?” Or would you prefer a more brand-friendly approach such as “the tri-county area’s best option for great service and competitive rates?”

The very essence of branding is setting yourself apart from the competition. You want to be the singular “the” for your members – not the broad and generic “an” when it comes to financial products and services options. Your entire credit union staff, from the Board of Directors and C-Suite executives to the front line and back office must make it part of their personal daily mission to promote the brand as the best possible choice for consumers in your area.

Anything less than that seems anemic and, frankly, a waste of time and money.

While I’m sure plenty of people will still drink Dr Pepper (myself included) and watch the Dallas Cowboys (again, myself included), relegating yourself to one option in a sea of many (and presumably paying a great deal of money to put that message on an aluminum can) seems lame and self-defeating.

In high school, I was blessed enough to be my wife’s only date to homecoming (yes, I married my high school sweatheart). I’m not sure how I might’ve felt if there had been four or five other guys in the limousine as “a group of the official guys taking this beautiful young lady to the game and dance tonight.” For my ego and brand dollar, go big and get the singular sponsorship – or stay home and play video games.

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: Details