3 Branding Lessons for 2019

By now your credit union or community bank’s strategic plan is ready for the New Year. Hopefully, it’s a plan to help you close the gap and hold you and your team accountable – where you don’t find yourself overwhelmed by the day-to-day. What we don’t want to see is a plan that mimics that of the chronic resolution-taker.

When you examine what’s holding you back right now, does your brand come to mind? Too often branding is left out of the mix when developing a strategic plan, or it becomes the first thing to blame when things don’t go according to plan. If you believe as I do, that a brand is at the center of your organization, are you heading into the New Year confident or just waiting for the wheels to fall off?

Here are three conversations about your brand that can led to powerful change. Put these in context with your strategic plan for 2019. If you seek meaningful progress, don’t defer on your brand. Take a leap.

Shifting to Future Tense

Just behind low rates and great service, most financial institutions tout their long history. You know what else has a long history? Bankrupt Sears. Wells Fargo was established in 1852, and in 2018 they launched a “re-established” campaign in an effort to earn back trust following some very public account scandals.

Think about the brands you love, and how much history really plays a role. Most American’s have the sense of “What have you done for me lately?” They are looking for greater control of their destinies and for the freedom that an organization such as yours can help them provide. Tell that story instead.

Your True Competitive Advantage

Did you know that one of the hottest gifts this Christmas is the $50 Poopsie Slime Surprise Unicorn? It’s a plastic unicorn that poops glittery slime. There’s over 20+ “magical surprises.” Something ridiculous and vulgar has been packaged as something fun and exciting.

Here’s the kicker: Your true competitive advantage is what your members or customers believe, not what you sell. What do people believe about your organization? What could they believe? If marketers can make a fictional animal’s bowel movements marketable, there’s hope for you!

Develop a brand attitude that will separate you from all the other financial institutions out there. Whoever gets closer to the consumer wins. Figure out how the consumer wants to feel, and then provide and market the solutions.

People, Thoughts & Actions

What’s your organization’s reputation as an employer? How are you attracting top talent? Are you losing top talent?

Your internal brand is just as important as your external brand. A study by Booz and Company found that 60% of executives believe culture is more important than strategy or their operating model. The survey also found that 51% of executives think a major overhaul is currently needed in their culture.

A brand is only as strong as its people, thoughts and actions. If your team is not fully prepared to embrace change, you run a greater risk of making a misstep with your brand or taking no steps at all.

Examine your culture more closely. For example: It’s one thing to say your innovative. It’s another to actually be innovative. Having your team see and believe in the big picture is critical to taking your brand to the next level.

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