What business is your brand in?
There are an untold number of ways in which we could talk about the concept of branding. We can discuss brand equity, brand power, brand messaging, personal branding, etc. Branding is as hot a topic as ever, with new articles, books and messages arriving daily.
Odds are, you put an lot of time, money, effort and energy into your credit union brand. Whether it’s one person, a team or you outsource the branding, having professionals dedicated to the art and function of branding is critical in today’s competitive marketplace. But — have you ever really stopped to think about the business your brand is in?
This is a critical question to consider, regardless of the nature of the business. It applies as equally to credit unions as it does to butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. What do you consider to be the most important job of your brand? Is it promotion? Is it awareness? Is it hip and cool messaging to attract new members? Is it spicing up collateral materials like websites, brochures and lobby graphics?
All these things are important parts of branding but not truly the core business your brand is in. At its center,branding is the art of storytelling crafted in such a way as to share the culture of your credit union and its commitment to both members of the community at large.
Following are a few ways in which your credit union brand can help live up to this deeper branding message of culture and commitment.
- Expect your employees to live the brand every day. Marketing gurus come up with terrific branding ideas, but the implementation and display of those ideas lies strongly with your front-line staff. If front-line staff are not living the brand, it is a failed promise. For example, if your branding efforts include a specific order of targeted questions to help staff better serve member needs and they fail to ask those questions, the underlying brand message is diluted. The business of your brand is people.
- Communicate the brand to staff and members on a regular basis. You must come to see every interaction with staff and members as an opportunity to share and empower the brand message. Every teller transaction, every team meeting, every community event — use these as irreplaceable moments to build the brand. The business of your brand is consistency.
- Fully integrate your brand. Branding is never just a logo, colors or a catchy message. For your branding to be successful, it must filter up and out into every aspect of your credit union. This includes how you answer the phones, how you reply to emails, how you interact via social media channels, even things as simple as dress code and outgoing email signatures. If every aspect of your credit union is not deeply ingrained with the overall brand message, you’re missing out. The business of your brand is integration.
Sometimes it’s tempting to think of branding in terms that limit its power. However, credit unions successful in their branding efforts recognize it is better to look at branding in much larger terms. The business of your brand is people, consistency and integration. More importantly, the business of your brand is storytelling. At every opportunity it shares who you are as a credit union and why both members and potential members can benefit from a relationship with you. Leverage the business of branding in this way to help build your credit union.