Many credit unions are investigating their brand. It is a term used quite frequently, but what does it really mean, “brand”? Let’s start by looking at where the term came from and how it developed.
Where did brands come from?
Consumer branding was first introduced through trademarks; symbols that would evoke feelings toward a company, whether that was trust, loyalty, value or quality. Brands such as Bass Ale, Arm and Hammer and Coca-Cola have trademarks that are still recognizable today. In the 1980s consumers began to believe in the integrity of a company, its values and promises, not only the product it was selling. A name became deeper, more personal and prideful, a trustworthy guarantee. This helped the idea of a corporate brand identity strengthen and grow.
What does that mean today?
It means that brands are evolving, though the idea of a recognizable “trademark” can still help indicate quality, consumers have looked even further behind that mark and are developing a deeper interest in the organization that lies behind it. What is your organization’s mission? What do you value and how do you unify that value across the organization? A brand has to reflect the same ideals on the inside and the outside. Would an Employee say the same thing about your organization as the public? They should. Not only does this increase functionality, it becomes somewhere people want to belong, where values align with their own. This holds true for employees as well as consumers.
How does branding work for credit unions?
Though we are looking to change the behaviors of our members with increased financial education, we are also focused on the idea that profit is redistributed to sustain our purpose – the betterment of our members and the communities we serve. Our brand has to reflect the overreaching idea of credit unions – people helping people – and also include our own character and beliefs. Think of a family, you may all be a part of the same one, but each person in it is unique. A brand should express that uniqueness. What would yours be?
What to do now?
As we move forward with revisiting and developing our brand there are a few steps to keep in mind. Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Satisfaction and Loyalty. All of which, when stacked together, can help create brand awareness, a strong member base and advocates for the credit union.
Though some may try to execute brand as a marketing campaign, it has to be a full team effort- from an ad on a website to the member support and digital experience. Or from the community growth and education initiatives to the technical infrastructure of the company. Your employees, members and your community are all a part of a new reinvigorated brand purpose. They are promoters and defenders of those particular qualities that your organization stands behind.
The pieces are there to start, your members, staff and the products you offer. By looking at what it is these pieces do, how they do it and why, you can begin to construct your own brand story and move through the steps to a strong brand experience, with your own unique personality.