Thought leadership – Payments is a form of branding

Credit unions think of branding in terms of advertising, mailings, inserts, logos and social media. However, payments, and all the touch points associated with digital and plastic payments, are an equally important part of a credit union’s branding.

Credit Union marketers are diligent in ensuring that the brand is consistent throughout all aspects of member contact. Signage, logos, websites, mobile and online banking are all inspected for consistency with the brand. However, payments need to be included in this thought process.

Payments are more activity based, while other branding elements are more visual. Nevertheless, from a branding perspective, payments can be far more memorable, both positive and negative, because people are more likely to remember the experience in doing an activity.

Every step along the member’s payments journey, as well as every touch point, need to be considered part of the credit union’s branding. When loading the credit union’s card into Apple Pay, the text message to authenticate, the email to confirm enrollment, and every aspect of friction, or lack thereof, is part of a credit union’s branding.

Credit Union marketers take great efforts to ensure that their card art reflects the credit union’s brand. But once the card is entered into the Uber or Lyft app, for example, that card art has been exchanged for 12 X’s followed by 4 digits. This is when a focus on experience becomes even more important because the ultimate goal is to have members make their credit union-branded card the default card in these apps. Any rewards or incentives that will encourage continued use of the credit union-branded card should be incorporated into the member experience.

The P2P experience is another branding opportunity. When a member wants to send money to their friend who is a customer of a ‘big bank’, is your credit union P2P compatible? Is it frictionless? Is it accessible from your CU mobile banking app like their friend’s is? When it comes to branding, the member might not remember the placement of the logo, but he/she will remember that they had to write a check when all their friends had access to a digital P2P app backed by their bank.

Branding opportunities are not limited to digital payments. There are several elements to using plastic that equally reflect the importance of branding. A false positive decline is a major branding consideration, in fact, a very negative one; And, like other negative experiences, one that will be remembered long after the member forgets the colors of the branch walls or the logo placement on a mailer. When a member who was declined calls into the number on the back of the card, how that member is greeted, what questions are asked, and how the issue is resolved, is an equally, if not more, important element of branding, which should be the purview of marketing, even though these aspects of member interaction are usually left up to member care or operations.

Unfortunately, oftentimes, it is when something goes wrong, like a fraudulent payment transaction or a false decline, that a member most associates their experience with their credit union – that is branding. But the flipside is also true, when everything is working perfectly; making mobile payments with the CU-branded credit or debit card and getting a reward, and making  P2P payments from the CU mobile banking app – that is also branding. Branding is at every member touchpoint, it is not just a visual element, it is an experience that is a part of every action and interaction.

Need some help in taking advantage of branding opportunities throughout the payments experience? Contact the experts at Trellance.

Lou Grilli

Lou Grilli

Lou Grilli is a senior innovation strategist at PSCU, tasked with building and shaping a superior payment and member experience capability for PSCU and its Owner credit unions. Lou is ... Web: Details