Credit Union Branding, Marketing, Messaging and Overall Communication Needs to Be Consistent to Be Effective

June 9, 2022

  • Credit unions excel in the financial side of the business, but they are not as successful with branding and marketing. The lack of engagement in these spheres may result in their inability to grow and achieve meaningful goals.
  • Most credit union executives tend to underestimate the power of email campaigns, claiming that members do not open emails from their credit unions. That is a huge misconception.
  • Many credit union members are not even sure what their credit unions offer. Member education is an important part of member engagement.

Non-members don’t know much about credit unions, which results in them choosing big banks over these smaller financial institutions. Why? “Some credit unions do a terrible job of branding and marketing,” says Eric Isham, CEO andfounder of OMNICOMMANDER, in the latest episode of the Digital Banking Podcast. Credit unions also need to do a better job of engaging their existing members.

“There are so many credit unions that are head over heels involved and invested in their brand and their culture,” admits Isham. “Their members give them five-star Google ratings. They’re growing every single quarter.” Other credit unions, not so much.

Branding Is All About the Feeling

Branding is an essential part of any business. But is branding about selling products or selling a feeling?

A feeling can’t be sold, you must think. But take a look at the example Isham provided. “Nike does an incredible job with its branding. They’re not showing shoes in their commercials. They’re not selling shoes; they’re selling a feeling. And that’s what branding is about.”

And yes, credit unions must sell a feeling. They should embrace what’s called a unified approach. Isham explains it as an example of consistency that should persist in social posts, commercials, billboards, and credit union branches. In essence, credit unions should send a unique vibe that future members will recognize, remember, and feel.

“If you go into a Starbucks in Seattle or Los Angeles or Miami or New York, not only do they look the same, they feel the same. ” And so should credit unions. “The branch needs to look and feel like everything on the digital channels,” added Isham.

A Custom-Tailored Digital Message is the Answer to Why

“Tell me your why, and I will help you tailor a digital message,” said Isham.

Understanding those whys is an essential part of sending a unique digital message. Credit unions should be able to give all the answers to the most vital questions regarding their goals.

“When we’re launching a new digital branch, whether it’s the website, or email campaigns or social media campaigns or radio ads or video, I need to understand what the why is,” he added.

Educate Members – Most of Them Don’t Get Crucial Information

“There are people on social media talking about how much they love working with their credit union. How nice it is when they go into that branch or whenever they are on the phone, or they’re doing business, how easy it is because everybody’s in that good mood. Because everybody’s jiving, and they’re all in the same tribe,” said Isham.

But for every zealous member-advocate, there are more who don’t have an entirely clear understanding of the credit union.

“The job of credit union executives is to educate their members on the products and services they provide,” stated Isham. Potential members often get confused by what credit unions offer because they don’t have all the information they need. “Even small credit unions offer a lot of products that their members are not aware of. And it gets back to the lack of marketing and the misunderstanding around digital communication,” he said.

Why Should I Become a Member of a Credit Union?

Not all people come to credit unions for the same reasons, and not all know what to expect from the membership. That’s where most credit unions make mistakes.

“They may have signed up at the credit union because they work at the factory, the hospital, they’re a state employee, or maybe their parents were there, and they told them about, or a coworker, etc. Maybe they signed up for an auto loan. And we’re only scratching the surface of what can be done with the memberships.”

And most credit unions don’t know how to respond to that.

“My wife recently asked a credit union, ‘Tell me, why should I become a member?’ He blanked out on her. He had no answer. And she said, ‘Hold on, you can’t tell me why I should be a member of the credit union?’” That’s a real problem – and it’s not uncommon.

Communication Is the Key to Long-Term Success

“Even if we’re building gorgeous, interactive websites and effective marketing campaigns, when the folks show up, we still have to be able to get that messaging across. Why should you stay?”

There’s no doubt that a creative marketing strategy can improve a credit union’s branding and promotion, but long-term success comes with well-thought-out communication.

“You’ve got to be able to communicate effectively. And the more time you spend thinking about the messaging and your delivery, the better the results are, and that’s across life in general,” Isham concluded.