This gelatinous glob tries to be everything to everyone

Beating the Blah Brand Blob

The Blah Brand Blob is a close cousin to the Bankthink Behemoth and the Monster of Meh. Huge, fuzzy, and sprawling, this gelatinous glob tries to be everything to everyone and slowly smothers growth under a flood of ignorable messaging, lukewarm shades of boring blue, and halfhearted, tedious mission statements.

But you can turn your Blah Brand Monster into a different kind of monster – a lean, mean growth machine. It takes Focus, Humanity and Differentiation to trim the tepid, amplify uniqueness, and make those emotional connections that turn ordinary mild-mannered members into rabid, lifelong fans.

Figure Out What You Ain’t

With apologies to my 5th grade English teacher (sorry Mrs. Miller): the most powerful way to focus, define, understand, and refine your brand is to define what you ain’t.

Who ain’t in your target audience? What products will you never offer? What kinds of fees will you never charge? What sort of potential members are probably better off going someplace else?

These are tough, almost demoralizing questions to think about, but there’s simply no such thing as being “all things to everyone.” If you pare away enough “ain’t”, what you “are” will become far clearer and more focused.

Market to Humans

One of the things that leads directly to painfully tepid marketing by committee is marketing to a demographic, not a person. The more you can focus on one message targeted to one specific  human from a fellow human, the more powerful your message will be. It’s a bit of a paradox – the more specifically you craft your message, the more appeal it will have for everyone because it’s authentic and relatable.

Characterization, a technique from fiction writing, is a great way to do this. Instead of a mortgage campaign targeted to females 24-34, think about Sally, a 27 year old single mother of two who just landed a great job downtown, but is worried about the long hours and how it might affect her children. She wants to buy a nice little house in town with a yard sometime in the next few years so her kids can grow up with a dog. She isn’t sure how much she can afford, or how much she needs to save up… Keep adding detail, and pretty soon Sally is real enough you can understand how to communicate with her.

Have a Point of View

Of course, just like brand and marketing messages are more powerful when they’re targeted TO a specific person, they’re far more powerful when they come FROM a specific personality or point of view. The more you water things down with committees and layers of approval, the less effective you’ll be. Every brand and every credit union has a specific personality; make sure you define and develop that personality in detail.

For example, maybe your CU’s brand personality is “cool Aunt Sandy”. She’s a lot of fun to be around, and full of smart advice and more than a few corny jokes. She doesn’t put up with moping around, and she’ll do everything she can to help when her family runs into trouble.

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Brian Wringer

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