Nearly every creative consultant, marketing executive, and industry journalist has an opinion about your credit union’s brand. They may even go so far as to say your brand is “good.” But “good is the enemy of great," right? And most advice you’re going to get is based on opinion, not facts. In this 4-part series, we will approach the question about the strength of your brand more pragmatically and review some key data points that you can easily access, track, and measure to determine how well your brand resonates.
A strong brand is a consistent brand, wherein a member knows exactly what to expect from your credit union and gets it time after time, no matter how they interact with the CU.
As referenced in PART III of this series, a “brand” is real estate (a.k.a. brand equity) in the mind of a consumer. That brain real estate is established by experiences with brand touchpoints: products, people, and processes. Those touchpoints can either strengthen or break down your brand in the eye of a member. Every single time a member interacts with your digital platform, branch, or staff, the credit union’s brand equity goes up, down, or remains neutral.
You may see that last sentence and think you should always want to shoot for enhancing brand equity with every interaction. But remaining neutral is OK, too, because remaining neutral means the member got what they expected. Brand equity will grow slowly over time as the credit union becomes a trusted partner. To make an instant positive impact to your brand equity, you must delight, surprise, or WOW a member. Of course, once you do that, a new expectation is established. Thus, if brand equity stays neutral when the bar is already set very high, that’s a positive outcome.
Take a hard look at your products and your credit union’s overall brand promise. Are they aligned? If you promise to be a “financial partner for life,” do you have products for each life stage or at least the ability to customize core products to match a member’s specific needs? For instance, if a member with little credit history gets an auto loan from you at 18%, is there an automatic process to reduce that rate over the course of the loan with prompt, on-time payments or as the credit score improves?
No one wants to see humans completely replaced with robots. We also don’t want to turn humans into robots, but when it comes to consistency, there’s something to be said for programming…oops, training. It’s important to give your team the formula for success. That formula could include product scripts, automatic screen prompts, searchable resource libraries, or other ways to ensure they say and do the right things as often as possible.
Do your delivery channels such as ATMs, branches, your website, mobile banking, advertising, etc., ALL look and sound like they are coming from the same source? Or do they look like something generic that you simply added your credit union logo onto? Do these channels work consistently or do you get regular complaints about difficulty logging in or that links are broken? Is your credit union branch signage easy to see as a driver is traveling toward your location? Is the branch clean and branded? These are just a few of the delivery channel questions to ask yourself.
There are great survey resources in the market that measure consistency at transactional and overall relationship levels. You can also do your own “boots on the ground” research in branches and/or via online surveys. Find a way to track your touchpoints and watch your brand equity score soar!