If CUs were rebranded as their best qualities

Rebranding: why it’s all about your “why”

It’s human nature to name things to make them easier to understand. We name things in order to identify what they are, organize them into some sort of system, and describe them to others. And once named, that thing then becomes a bit more real to us; we start to feel ownership, more of a mental and emotional connection. We understand it.

So it’s no wonder credit unions were usually named after the entity where they started. If you worked at ABC Widgets Company, it was pretty easy to understand that you could join the ABC Widgets Credit Union. Then, once you were a member, that name became one more bit of your personal identity.

Why branding should honor your history, not embalm it

Today ABC Widgets no longer exists, and the small town where it started has grown into a city. The CU’s members now come from a variety of SEGs and affiliations, and maybe even a few counties. Other than four members of the Board who retired from ABC Widgets several years ago, there is no strong common link between the name and an employer or community.

But there is still a common bond if you look for it. And that common bond is usually your purpose.

Why your branding should communicate your why

Today’s consumers, especially younger consumers, are boycotting companies whose values they view as contrary to their own. Instead, they choose brands to do business with, looking at what kind of impact each brand is making in the world. They want to feel a personal connection, a sense of right and wrong that they can agree with.

They are looking for your purpose. Your “why” you do what you do.

Credit unions have that purpose. You could even say that credit unions were one of the first types of purpose-driven companies to exist.

Unlike banks, credit unions have never existed simply to create profits for shareholders. Credit unions are created, owned, and operated by their participants. They have always existed to help people of ordinary means – and that purpose gets even more results when it can help even more people.

Which should make credit unions ideally positioned to connect with purpose-driven consumers. If they could only tell by your name and brand.

Why purpose branding is worth it

The benefits of branding and living a clear purpose aren’t just good feelings or squishy feel-good stuff. They’re very real in both dollars and cents and in impact.

According to Deloitte: “Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.”

More from Deloitte: “a clear purpose is everything to an organization. It is an organization’s soul and identity, providing both a platform to build upon and a mirror to reflect its existence in the world. It articulates why an organization existswhat problems it is here to solve, and who it wants to be to each human it touches through its work. While it’s not the first time in history businesses are pondering why they exist and who they are to their customers, the current trend based on our research shows that businesses are using purpose to create deeper connections with consumers, do more for the communities with which they work, attract and retain talent, and in the process, are achieving greater results and impact.”

Why your purpose needs to be real, not “just marketing”

Truly living a purpose is the hard part. Without tangible, impactful, everyday differences in rates, policies, and decision-making at every level, it’s just lip service.

And today’s connected consumers are incredible BS detectors. If you’re claiming a purpose you’re not really living up to, they’ll know.

This is where credit unions have a huge built-in advantage. They are fundamentally purpose-driven, after all. But every CU can and must do a better job at defining, articulating, communicating, and living up to their unique purpose.


About those logos in the graphic: Last November I decided to do my own version of the 30 for 30 Challenge. Instead of exercise or some other foolish notion, I decided to design a logo every day. I decided that CUs could be named after their most admirable qualities, and gave myself some limitations in fonts and colors to keep me from spending more time than I should on a whim. These are the results. So if you like one of these ideas for your credit union, let’s talk. 😉

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