Living in a hypersonic-paced consumer culture in which they are hit-up by advertisements from all angles at all hours of the day and night, many modern consumers have developed a cynical attitude towards inauthentic brands. It’s also no secret that there’s little love lost between consumers and financial institutions in general (given so much negative press about big banks in the last ten years).
Your credit unions brand must, therefore, come across as not just hip but personable and authentic to consumers. Otherwise, the radar they have built over years of dealing with “business as usual” from financial institutions will detect your squareness from a mile away and automatically eliminate you as a contender for their business. How can you help in sure your credit union brand is hip and not square? Consider the following.
- Be personable. If you want your credit union to come across to consumers as the stereotypical “banker,” your brand is doomed to squareness. Very few people, especially younger generations, find this type of financial personality relatable or even trustworthy. Your credit union brand must be represented by people that not only look like the members you serve but also can easily relate to the members you serve. Using real images of your staff and advertising is a good start to being personable. However, you must also build a brand that promotes genuine interactivity between staff and members.
- Be approachable. Let’s face it — dealing with finances is not most people’s favorite thing to do. For many it is at best boring and at worst fearsome. Your credit union brand can help take the curse off this by exhibiting approachable behavior. Part of this is the way in which your physical branches are laid out (open floor plans, natural light and eliminating barriers between staff and members are a good start). However, it goes far beyond architecture. For a brand to be approachable, credit unions must put the right personalities in the right seats from the start. Treating any position, especially front-line positions, like a revolving door leads to a disconnect between members and your brand and a lack of approachability.
- Be funny. Honestly, being authentically funny is tough. To paraphrase the old theater saying, “drama is easy; comedy is what kills you.” However, credit unions that can capture and exhibit truthful humor in their brand persona are striking consumer gold. When you think about it from the member perspective, comedy is one of the last things they expect from a financial institution. When their credit union shows an authentic and legitimate sense of humor (social media is a great way to showcase your credit union sense of humor, as is an employee culture that is open to innovation and creativity when it comes to member interaction), members can quickly form an attachment and affinity for that credit union. Humor, when done well, can help build a terrific bond between credit union brand and credit union members.
There’s an old Huey Lewis and the News song that claims “it’s hip to be square.” When it comes to building deeper relationships with members, however, credit unions are perhaps better advised to focus more on the hip angle. Being personable, approachable and funny are great ways to kickstart these deeper relationships.