Branding continues to reign as a hot topic in the retail world, including our own little niche here in credit union land. Keep in mind, credit unions are retail operations just as much as Amazon, Walmart and Nordstrom. We just happen to sell financial products and services — and are very much beholden to the dynamics that govern successful brands.
It’s still (relatively) early in the year and many credit union leaders are keen on the importance of their brand in the marketplace. A strong brand can mean all the difference to important key metrics like ROA, ROI, market share, wallet share, etc. A weak/unsure brand, however, can also sink your ship faster than a paper boat in a rain gutter.
Think about the current status of your credit union brand and bounce it off the following three signs indicating your brand might be in trouble.
- Your frontline staff doesn’t have a clue. As the most member-facing part of your staff, those on the frontline have a vital role to play in the success of your brand. Quiz them periodically about important key brand elements (questions along the lines of “Give me an example of how you lived our brand with a member today?” or “What’s our brand vision statement and why does it matter to your daily role here at the credit union?”). If your frontline staff can’t answer questions like that, you’ve got a brand disconnect and that’s a problem.
- Branches are doing their own thing. It seems like the further branches are from the “mothership” main office, the more likely they are to jump off the brand bandwagon and go rogue. Brand cohesion from branch to branch is critical. Without that, your members won’t get a reinforced brand impression regardless of the location they visit (this also certainly includes members that contact your credit union via telephone or email). Physical branches, in this example, must adhere to the same brand standards embraced by the main office. If they are dancing to the beat of a different brand drummer, that’s a problem.
You read this article, called or emailed a couple of co-workers and asked them “what the heck is a brand and do we have one?” (As an added kicker, if you’re not sure your credit union actually has a brand, it does. Aaaand it’s probably not the brand you want).
Like an invaluable Ming vase, the best way to repair a broken brand is not to break it in the first place. Sure, you could try superglue and duct tape but you’ll never really have the original item again. If your credit union is experiencing any of the potential brand troubles above, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your overall brand experience.