The 1 Credit Union Marketing Mistake You’re Making

Blue pencil erasing a mistake

I can rattle off a half dozen marketing mistakes credit unions make, but I want to focus on the one major mistake that I see time and time again. It’s the mistake that stems from our good nature and desire to be the good guys but often ends up doing more harm than good to your brand: Lying.

“Not me. We would never do that.” Not intentionally, and that’s why I bring this to your attention.

Some companies have done this in the past and ended up in legal trouble. Take Airborne for example: “Airborne cures colds.” A bold statement that could not be backed up with research or facts, landing them in a $23 million lawsuit. Or Skechers, which ended up paying a $40 million settlement after using celebrities like Kim Kardashian to peddle its Shape-Up sneakers, claiming that you only had to tie on your shoes to lose weight.

Most likely the lies in your marketing aren’t as harmful to consumers as the examples listed above, but they could be doing extensive damage to your brand. Think back to your last 24 months of marketing. What messages are you putting out there?

Here are three common lies I see often, innocently told in credit union marketing but don’t always match up to reality:

  1. We have great service! Perhaps this isn’t on your billboard or in your last campaign, but “great service” is one of the differentiators we often use when trying to explain our credit union to someone. First, good service is the entry price to play the game. Treating people decently and flashing a pearly white smile when someone walks into the branch is not what makes you different. In fact, I’ve seen some credit unions use this as their unique value proposition, and upon a member’s first interaction with the brand, they find that statement to be a lie. That one shot to convert someone to a new member is lost forever.
  2. We have great rates! Often that is used in the same statement as “great service.” Do you have great rates, or are they competitive? Perhaps you even quote your rate “as low as,” which may not be lying but is somewhat deceptive. Knowing that anyone with a credit score under 800 (which is 80% of the U.S. population) won’t qualify for that rate, you’re setting up your brand to disappoint members and potential members. “But your ad said…” Sure you can point them to the fine print, but you might as well point them to the next closest financial institution.
  3. We’re community-minded! Tell me more. How so? I’ve often encountered credit union brands that say this but do nothing more than write some checks to organizations with zero presence or involvement in their communities. It’s certainly not a bad thing to financially support community initiatives, but you need to walk the walk too.

Even if you believe in your heart that any or all those statements to be true about your credit union, ask yourself how true it is, or whether there is a more meaningful message you could be sharing.

Being authentic with your brand will pay dividends in the long run. Did you know 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support? Here are a few places you can focus your attention to shore up your credit union brand authenticity:

  • 81% of surveyed consumers said they must be able to trust the brand to buy from them. How are your online reviews? If you’re touting “great service” but only have a 2.9 score on Google reviews, are you truly being authentic?
  • It takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for people to form an opinion about your credit union website. When is the last time you refreshed your website and audited it to ensure a great online user experience?
  • Consistent presentation of a brand increases revenue by 33%. Is your brand visually consistent in its presentation?

Your credit union brand is your chance to tell your story. And branding goes beyond the logo you design, the font you use, or the products and services you sell. It’s all these things and much more. It’s the experience you provide. It’s the philosophy you embrace and the culture you adhere to. A brand is the feeling that your credit union evokes in members—it’s what makes you unique. 

Stay away from rates, service, and generic messages. Be specific and be unique. Need some help? Let’s talk! Problem-solving and pushing past the obstacles that are keeping your credit union from growing is my passion.

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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


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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