How to (re)build a credit union brand to believe in


A lot of people think a brand begins and ends with the visual components. A spiffy new name, a zoomy new logo, maybe toss in a trendy tagline, and you’re done. Right? Not so fast…

Sure a name and logo are part of a brand’s identity, and they are important parts of a brand (and they can be the most fun part of the process), but they’re only identifiers that make the brand visually unique and easy to identify instantly.

So what's a brand, anyway?

Your brand is the totality of everything people experience and feel about you, not just the visual components like the logo. A deep understanding of your brand is critical to, well, everything – from policy to products to service quality to marketing and messaging.

Strong credit union brands communicate a recognizable personality, value, promise, and even member experience. More importantly, today’s brands need to communicate their purpose, their reason for existing, and what makes them unique.

Branding is the process of discovering, rediscovering, articulating, and understanding your true brand; the core of that emotional, authentic, and unique connection you share with your members.

Another way to put it is that your brand is your Purpose, made visible and identifiable.

The quick answer is that if you’re thinking about it, it’s probably already past time. When a brand no longer fits the reality, the people closest to the credit union know something isn’t right.

The long answer is more complicated. There are three main categories of reasons a brand review is needed.

Challenges - Economic challenges? Issues with staff engagement? Is a competitor beating you up and stealing your lunch? Is a stuffy old brand getting in the way of growth because it doesn’t match the hip techno-powerhouse you’re becoming?

Changes - New CEO? Charter change? Merger? Changes locally? Did a main SEG change, leave town, or rebrand? Are your members and their needs now radically different than they were?

Stagnation - Been sort of... drifting along? Are the numbers OK but not great? Is growth starting to flatline? Is the average age of your members going up? Have you heard the words "old fashioned" or "stuffy" lately?