Brand is Culture, Culture is Brand

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Eggs in egg cups on white background

Which is more important: Your credit union staff or its members? This may sound like the quintessential “chicken or egg” question, and you may be right. As astrophysicist and planetary scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has an answer to this metaphoric adjective (it’s the egg), so do we for this important branding question.

It’s your staff.

Not convinced?

Back in 2017, we started working with a Midwest credit union and I knew something was different. I not only fielded calls from the CEO and the VP of Business Development and Marketing, but I was having detailed conversations with the VP of Human Resources/Administration.

From pre-hiring to onboarding, we discussed culture videos, the credit union’s careers page, handbooks and forms, anniversary luncheons and other employee celebrations, employee surveys, swag ideas, and more.

We concentrated on the visualization of the internal brand. At each person’s desk sits a glass bulb filled with six small items outlining the keys to success at the credit union. We created a living emblem that embodies four core values of the credit union’s actions to one another, the membership and the greater community. These values are perpetuated daily in staff meetings and one-on-ones. We also kickstarted a random acts of kindness initiative and a young professionals’ group for employees.

So, when I tell you that this credit union grew 63% over the past four years, from $168.9 million to $275.5 million in total assets, it wasn’t just mad marketing skills. It also wasn’t just about identifying purpose, vision and values. It was about a culture shift throughout the organization. Even today it is their people, thoughts and actions that continue to drive unbelievable numbers for the credit union.

Meanwhile, we have another $55 million credit union in the Northeast that has been doing gangbusters (up 39.8%) in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, growth slowed but was still healthy. Was the answer simply to put the “nose to the grindstone.”

No.

Despite what has gone on in the economy, the CEO recognized the credit union witnessed higher turnover. With the growth of the credit union, preserving a fun and healthy culture proved challenging to staff with the rise of loans and assets. The leadership team began asking, “How can this organization have an engaging member experience if the staff doesn’t fully realize why the credit union exists?”

Today, the credit union is planning for the future and is crafting a new brand story. They have opened the lines of communication to discuss their core values with their staff and are committed to hiring the right people to maintain a healthy culture. They now realize a captivating internal brand will lead to a stronger external brand.

More recently, I was brought in to work on a brand strategy for a New England-based $293 million credit union that welcomed a new CEO less than a year ago. He inherited a leadership team that was used to working in silos. Many were ready to call it quits.

The leadership team, however, is more unified today, and the culture is drastically different than what it was just a few months ago. Now with clear goals and direction, the credit union needs a brand identity to match. And what they’ve learned is what we tell ourselves shapes our beliefs, but it doesn’t end there. It’s not beliefs alone that shape a credit union, it’s behavior.

Are you ready to develop an unbreakable brand culture?

Credit Union Branding

Your Marketing Co. offers experts in credit union branding, marketing and strategic planning. We’re here to answer all your credit union branding questions.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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