Need a resolution? Add some pillars to your credit union

There are all sorts of resolutions out there – fitness, travel, reading more books, finally doing that renovation – and on and on it goes. And maybe your credit union is in need of a resolution too. I’d recommend a renovation…in particular, adding some pillars to your credit union.

Of course, I don’t mean literal pillars (although that would definitely add a unique Greco-Roman flair to your branches). I mean discovering the fundamental pillars of success your credit union is missing.

In my time working with credit unions, I’ve pinpointed these five pillars as: assessment, organizational alignment, branding, consumer experience and leadership training.

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these pillars can do for your credit union.

Pillar 1: Assessment

Last year, I had a credit union CEO tell me, “We glance at our competition, and we glare at ourselves.” What a great piece of wisdom!

I recommend following her advice by assessing what you could do better in every area. Ask yourself: is your marketing getting the return you want? Is your net promoter score increasing or decreasing? Are staff members passionate about their work?

This kind of regular self-reflection is vital to organizational success. After all, it’s impossible to fix shortcomings without identifying them first. So, assess, assess and assess again.

Pillar 2: Organizational Alignment

You might have the best products in the world, but it won’t mean much if your culture is toxic.

According to MIT Sloan Management Review, unhealthy cultures are the number one predictor of turnover and 10.4 times more important than compensation grievances. What does this mean for your credit union?

It means you can’t afford to kick organizational alignment initiatives down the road. Now is the time to clarify your culture and unite your staff behind a common goal. Remove the bad apples. Give your employees a “why” behind what they do. I know it sounds corny…but it works.

I’ll leave you with one more bonus to achieving an aligned culture. A McKinsey study showed employees who found purpose at work had higher engagement, excitement and achievement at their jobs. How would it feel to have that environment at your credit union?

Pillar 3: Branding

All too often, credit union leaders tell me a brand is a logo and color palate. And while those things are important parts of your visual brand, they’re not the core of your brand.

At its core, your brand is who you are.

Research the demographics you serve and the institutions you compete against. Determine what differentiates you from everyone else. Lead with strategy to discover your true brand.

That core will inform your logo, colors, imagery and brand voice. Your credit union will be stylistically and substantively recognizable. People won’t only know what you look like; they’ll know what you’re about.

Pillar 4: Member Experience

If someone asked you what made you different from everyone else, you’d undoubtedly say “service.” But these days, you’re going to need a lot more than putting the word service in your mission and values.


Because 89% of organizations compete on service. That means you’re more the rule than the exception. It also means you need to take your member experience to the next level and infuse your journey map with memorable moments.

These “wow moments,” whether that’s some free brand merchandise for each in-branch visitor or maximizing your app’s convenience, can take your member experience from great to above and beyond.

So, don’t rest on your laurels! Strive to have service that isn’t just great, but excellent.

Pillar 5: Leadership Training

As thought leader John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” He couldn’t be more right.

The quality of your leaders can either take your credit union straight to the top or drag it straight into the ground. You need middle managers and executives who know how to mentor employees, love to elevate staff and have the discipline to get things done.

Luckily, a leader who doesn’t have these skills isn’t stuck. There’s training available to make sure your credit union’s leaders are lighting the right path for everyone else.

And if you realize you’re missing a couple (or even all) of these pillars, there’s no reason to fear. Our Growth Accelerator™ Program helps you implement the pillars and achieve the growth you desire.

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