Ahh, branding. Over many years of teaming up with credit unions large and small, coast-to-coast, conversations about the important concepts of authentic branding are still as relevant and fresh as ever.
A few weeks ago, our communications director and brand thought leader Taylor W. Wells was on-site with a partner credit union facilitating their all-staff brand education experience (which typically comes quickly after a credit union brand leadership team develops its unique brand identity during a deep-dive interactive workshop).
The training room was packed and as Taylor combined energy and enthusiasm to provide the best possible brand education, one young lady in the crowd had a terrific epiphany. As Taylor described it, her face lit up with a broad smile as she shared “I totally see what you’re saying. Our brand isn’t what we do, it’s really who we are.”
That, friends, is both branding and training gold.
This bright young lady is entirely correct. A holistic approach to brand education covers not only what branding is but what it is not. Therefore, it’s important to get everyone on the same page so staff understands their brand is not merely the logo, website billboards or any of the other outward-facing marketing collateral. Although all are certainly elements of the brand, it’s important for staff to understand brand elevates everyone’s member service game and goes far beyond the transactional into the territory of cultural DNA.
In the process of working through brand education, the young lady in question was successfully able to elevate her own game beyond the transactional (what credit unions do) into the experiential (who credit unions are). To truly differentiate in the crowded financial products and services marketplace, this is exactly what credit unions and their staffs must learn and understand about branding — it’s not what you do but, much more importantly, who you are and what you mean to your members and potential members.
Your brand is your credit union’s most valuable asset. It is therefore extremely important to develop a brand culture that resonates with your staff so everyone (leadership team, frontline, back office, etc.) understands the role they play in supporting and growing the brand. When individuals like the young lady referenced above have that brand “aha!” moment, it’s a terrific sign that your credit union culture is making a successful transition from focusing on the transactional (and closed-ended) “what we do” to the much more encompassing (an open-ended) “who we are.” That’s when employees evolve into brand ambassadors fully empowered to take your unique brand proposition to members and potential members, wielding its power to take your credit union to ever-greater heights.