A Branding Pandemic for Credit Unions

Just as TV viewership is going up – 46% among teens – I’ve been tempted to tune out. This short YouTube video comically explains the glut of COVID-19 message out there. Another clever video captures the uncertainty of what we can do to fight the virus.

I don’t intend to bemoan the “we’re all in this together” message. We should all be united to support the pandemic’s real heroes.

However, there are some bandwagon brands where there promise is nothing more than lip service. After all, if we weren’t “in this together” before COVID-19, what would make our members or prospects believe our credit union is now?

We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our preparedness. There were 5,235 credit unions at the end of 2019. How many will we lose in 2020? Your credit union’s success depends on the cooperation and loyalty of your members. To do this, you must affirm what their ideals are and encourage them to go after it.

During this time of uncertainty, it is easy to take a tactical approach, toss vision and branding aside, and let the unusual amount of distractions and self-doubt overwhelm you and your team.

While none of us could have foreseen COVID-19 and the economic ramifications that have come with it, there are some credit union leaders who have tackled the challenges with amazing clarity and self-awareness. For others, they are looking at their team, products, and sales and marketing and are scripting what’s next. Then there are those who are, quite frankly, completely lost.

The high achievers are great at planning and building their brand. Listen, I’ll be the first to tell you that in many cases… done is better than perfect. However, perseverance is where real growth happens. That is where character is formed.

Affliction can kill the fragile, but when paired with vision, it produces endurance.

When I’m coaching a credit union about their brand, I ask about their ideal member. I get something like, “That would be Joanne. The staff absolutely adores her. Sometimes she brings us homemade cupcakes!”

In today’s world, where is Joanne? Actually, she is not the ideal member. She never was. She’s just someone you saw the most in your lobby, and now like most lobbies, yours is probably closed.

Your ideal member may have never stepped foot in your lobby. Think about that person for a moment and what’s driving their choices. Some of the best credit unions have developed loyal fans because their members wholeheartedly feel respected and well taken care of online.

How are you adapting and rebalancing your priorities in today’s environment for the benefit of your members? What’s your competitive advantage compared to the other financial institutions in your market?

Actions speak louder than words. Don’t be a bandwagon brand. Find your own voice.

Frank Allgood has more than 20 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Vice President of Relationship Development for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email frank@yourmarketingco.com.

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