After a busy week slaying the dragon, I opened my mail as soon as I got home. Included were two separate statements from the same credit union, both containing an 8-page, heavyweight, glossy quarterly newsletter. Two accounts warrant two statements, I guess? Clearly, this credit union doesn’t speak for the trees.
I’m not adverse to print, and I actually like the thickness of the newsletter, but the design hasn’t changed in over 20 years. I’m not kidding. Zero change. And I get a little miffed that the “seasonal” promotion for 1.99% APR for 60 months on a new, pre-owned or refinanced vehicle has been promoted for at least five straight quarters.
The auto loan special is no longer special. In fact, it never really was. There’s no value proposition. There’s no brand story. It’s just… dull. And while it says the low rate will end December 31, I’ll let you know in January if it actually does.
After opening the mail, dropping off the workbag and feeding the cat, our family ventured out to Chicora Alley, one of the few table service restaurants in my bedroom community. They call their dishes “Caribbean Southern fusion.”
Chicora Alley has a small indoor seating area and a nice bar, but it was such a beautiful, crisp fall night that we chose to eat outdoors. They have an eclectic assortment of tables and chairs covered by canopies laced with outdoor string lights. There’s a natural gas fire pit and a tetherball court. It’s not uncommon that while the adults are chitchatting a small child may scoot by on an antique tricycle.
Oh, did I mention this restaurant is a converted Taco Bell?
Taco Bell has never been known for its ambiance. Most have grimy tile, linoleum tabletops and those purple swivel chairs that are attached to the table, making it a tight squeeze for people of larger carriage like myself.
What we see in Chicora Alley, however, is how in 2012, a husband-wife team took a decrepit Taco Bell and created a sense of place. They saw that the town of Mauldin had a need for a table service restaurant. They are part of a broader story of a town without a city center finding ways to create a sense of a downtown environment.
There are a lot of credit unions and community banks that think they are in the banking business, when, in reality, they are in the member experience business. If this is you, and you are comparing yourself to everyone else, I bet your brand is not growing.
Is your community financial institution brand just good enough or could it be great?
Generosity and empathy are underrated. Facts rarely make an impression. People make decisions on your brand based on their senses. It’s important to note that something that is beautifully designed and packaged can attract consumers to your financial institution, but the reason your members keep coming back is more than skin deep.
Frank Allgood has more than 17 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Relationships & Results Leader for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions and community banks across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.