There are a lot of terrific sayings in Texas. One of them, with variations, goes like this: “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” Basically, this means you can wag your tongue about something (personal prowess, a skill, a job, etc.) as long as your end results justify the words. In essence, it’s the walk matching up with the talk.
The saying came to mind a few days ago when I walked past a boutique in a strip mall not far from home. They were closed for lunch but a large sign was hanging proudly in the window above the door. The sign proclaimed in big, bold letters:
“Come In, We’re Awesome!”
While I’m not a part of the boutique’s target audience and have never shopped there, the boldness of the sign intrigued me. The owner/staff are making a pretty daring statement here. In the world of credit unions, sometimes the language describing our brand and culture is stale and technical. Phrases like “net promoter score,” “member loyalty” and “key metrics” are all well and good but don’t necessarily invoke an energetic response when it comes to culture. “Awesome,” on the other hand? That’s definitely a more spirited play on words.
Now I’m going to ask you a key question. Apply the bold statement above to the current culture at your credit union. Is your brand and culture so lively, so differentiated, so lived and loved by staff every day that you could hang a similar sign on your front door? If not, why? If so, why haven’t you hung a sign like that already!?
If your answer to the above question is “no,” here are some key follow-up questions to ponder regarding your credit union’s current state of culture.
What words would members and employees use to describe our culture? If they’re not saying things like “awesome” what words are they using? A great way to find out how members and staff regard the status of your credit union’s culture is via a quick and easy anonymous online survey as part of a more intensive deep-dive marketing and cultural audit. While the answers to this question might be difficult to hear, it’s far better for a credit union to recognize and address cultural deficiencies now than allow the marketplace to do so in the future.
What would it take to develop a culture that both staff and members do describe with such positive words as “awesome?” An investment in brand and culture, while vital, is not a Band-Aid or an overnight quick-fix. When it comes to dealing with people and culture, credit unions must be prepared to use a long-term approach. The introduction of a new brand and culture is a long haul, but well worth the effort if your credit union goes into it with the right spirit and heart.
How would we measure the state of our brand and culture moving forward? As with any other major initiative, your credit union’s venture into brand and culture must be measured, monitored and compared back to (yes, that phrase again) key metrics. Too often brand and culture are maligned as being difficult, if not impossible, to track quantitatively. This is simply not the case. Credit unions that bravely sail their vessels into the swift currents of brand and culture do so with metric mile markers already in place. Some of these may be already-used measurements such as products per member, products per household, net member growth, asset size, etc. However, for something more nuanced like brand and culture, your credit union must also consider other measuring sticks that might include member and employee attitudes, product knowledge, brand knowledge and application, etc. Make no mistake; brand and culture have quantitative measurements and, critically, quantitative results (i.e.; your credit union’s bottom line).
The boutique mentioned above definitely has the right idea about both developing a vibrant brand and culture and not being afraid to brag about it. However, as the saying goes, it’s not bragging if you can back it up.