Why being you is the best brand of all

For most of us, our childhood and upbringing involved the adoration of some type of hero. Some children focus on sports heroes like Michael Jordan or Nolan Ryan, while others gravitate towards pop stars, Hollywood idols or politicians (Alex P. Keaton’s admiration of President Ronald Reagan on the 80s sitcom Family Ties comes to mind).

While there is nothing wrong with having a hero, with age comes wisdom and most of us eventually transition away from focusing on the external to the internal. In other words, we begin to appreciate the unique and fascinating things about our own selves that make us distinct human beings. While we may never be able to slam dunk like Michael Jordan or throw a fastball like Nolan Ryan, we can focus on our own compelling talents, traits and hidden gifts.

The same thing applies to your brand. Sometimes when working with credit unions on branding and brand plans, it becomes obvious they are focusing too much on the external. Worried about what other banks and credit unions around town are doing, they focus more on the competition than on their own distinct strengths and advantages.

For example, a credit union might become overly-focused on how many branches a competitor in town offers. And while that credit union could certainly build more branches, is that really the best play when it comes to a unique brand? Our fictional credit union in this case is much better-served by doing a deep-dive into their own brand identity, rather than trying to match the competition. The lesson here is — your competitors can always match products, services and even branch locations. What they cannot duplicate is your own authentic, internal culture.

That’s why being you is the best brand of all. Credit unions that take the time to invest in branding and engaging their staff in branding are well-advised to keep this in mind.

Trying to match your competitors’ culture is never a wise move. You might not be as fast as them, or have as big a marketing budget as them, or even have as many brick-and-mortar locations. But what you can be (and must be) is a vibrant and member-service driven credit union that positively exudes its own culture.

A terrific, outside-the-industry example of this is Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines is not known for its swank seating, fancy meals or “red carpet” service. What they are known for is inexpensive and reliable flight with a quirky take of corporate culture on the side. Southwest Airlines isn’t trying to be American or Delta. Their brand is unique and authentic to them.

So when considering your credit union brand, look inward for the answers. The answer to who you are is not found in your competition.

The process to brand self-enlightenment isn’t always easy, the answers don’t necessarily come quickly and the road to brand awareness is not traveled overnight. But the process is worth it. To be the best brand you can be, be yourself. Or, in the wise words of Wreck-It Ralph: “There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: www.markarnold.com Details