There comes a time for many financial institutions, including credit unions, when the current branding feels like it’s lacking. Conducting a formal brand audit is an important first step to help inform what type of change is needed. A brand audit can give insight into how a company is looked at from the outside, and can often reveal surprising new perceptions and strategies.
“When something must be done to change or update, the worst mistake is doing nothing.” as former Bethpage FCU CEO, Kirk Kordeleski shares. Now at Best Innovative Group (BIG), Kirk explains what being complacent can do to your credit union. “Doing nothing means being relegated to the side lines. Branding is about holding a superior position in consumer minds. It creates the awareness and accelerates growth.”
Companies often realize a need for change, but feel they lack the time or budget for a total rebrand. The thing is, rebranding isn’t always the best option out there.
Here’s why, at certain times, aiming for a strategic brand refresh can be a better choice than a rebrand:
A credit union’s priority is to its members. They can offer better rates and lower fees, because they are very conscientious of their own spending. Current data shows the average credit union already spends between 0.07% and 0.11% of assets on marketing.* A complete rebrand can be costly, and use of resources that could better be allotted other places. A brand refresh can allow everyone to analyze what is and isn’t working with the current brand to build from there. Which takes us to the next point: brand equity.
If a credit union’s branding or logo feel outdated, chances are it’s because they’ve been around for some years. While it’s good to update marketing and other member-facing communications, you don’t want to feel unrecognizable. It’s important to tell a story that leverages differentiating benefits. Members can feel trust and comfort in your existing brand; and strategically developed, your refreshed branding will bring that trust and loyalty to a new level.
Similar to brand equity, consistency can be a very important consideration. Or rather, lack of consistency can be huge in turning current members away. Through a brand refresh members can hold on to a consistency that ensures them the positive relationships they have with the credit union, and their worth as a member, will not diminish.
Budget aside, timing may be the other biggest barrier to rebranding for credit unions. In an era where communications with members are more ongoing than ever, knowing where to shift gears and introduce a brand new brand can feel daunting. Refreshing small points, like an updated logo or more refined brand voice, can lower the stress with finding the perfect moment to change, plus it helps the transition feel natural to members.
With all these points there is no definite answer that applies to every credit union. A refresh can be as small as deciding a new consistency with communications, a slightly edited logo, or changing secondary colors used within advertising. Or it might mean an updated logo that works with the current brand voice. The most important part is having a firm strategy behind the refresh to ensure every change is positive benefit for both the credit union and its members.
*Data source: Webstrategiesinc.com