Selling the C suite on branding

By  Mark Arnold

How do you sell the CEO, CFO or board of directors that your credit union or bank needs a new brand? In all honesty, if you have to ask that question there is already a problem at your financial institution. Great CEOs know the power of a successful brand. Think Steve JobsJeff Beezos and Phil Knight.

As Fred Smith, CEO of Federal Express once said, “Of all the assets on our balance sheet, the most important is the brand, even though it isn’t capitalized at all.”

While having a CEO or board that “gets” branding is a plus, oftentimes someone in marketing has to sell the higher-ups on a branding project (and by branding “project” I’m talking about the brand strategy—vision, targets, messages, employee training, etc. and not the visual look). So how do you effectively pitch branding or rebranding?

Here are some ideas and talking points to use:

  • Demonstrate branding’s ROI—Marketers think in color while executives in the “C” suite and board think in black and white. As in return on investment. A good brand plan will yield positive growth numbers (but you have to prove it). While branding ROI is tricky to demonstrate, this article (The Power of Brand Management) from The Financial Brand and these quotes from five brand experts are a great place to start a conversation with your CEO.
  • Audit your employees—Ultimately, it is your employees who have to live the brand every day. So how are they doing? Can they honestly answer the questions “what is your credit union about?” and “what makes your credit union different?” without using cliché words? Does everyone in your credit union or bank know your value proposition? The only way to determine your employees’ brand engagement is by conducting mystery shops or marketing audits.
  • Play the legacy card—This is especially important with your board of directors. They want to leave a legacy of a great financial institution, not one that eventually got merged into another. The only way the accomplish that goal is build a lasting brand. Talk to them about what they want people to say about their bank or credit union 10, 15 and even 20 years from now. A strong brand leads to a strong legacy.
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