Are You Creating A Unique Brand Experience?

From comparing prices and rates to evaluating offers and features, EPM Communications reports 33 percent of consumers, potential members of your credit union, research banks and financial companies online when selecting an institution. While technology has made it easier for potential members to find information on your credit union, convenience and broad access means they are also likely to find your competitors’ sites and offers. Coupled with a hyper-competitive market, consumers’ options when it comes to selecting a financial institution have become virtually limitless.

How can your local credit union stand out from amongst other credit unions and even big banks? In order to succeed in today’s hectic economic climate, credit unions must consistently evaluate how they do business and strive to elevate their brands from mere business identities to immersive, rewarding experiences. By crafting a unique, engaging brand experience, your organization can not only entice potential members with exclusive benefits, you can also build allegiance amongst your existing members, ensuring they become loyal advocates of your brand and credit union.

Developing a cohesive, comprehensive brand experience that efficiently portrays your credit union to current and potential members requires rigorous research and thorough strategic planning. As a practiced Account Planner and Chief Experience Officer, I’ve found the following steps particularly essential in elevating business identities.

Ask questions first.

In order to create an effective brand strategy, you must first truly grasp who your audience is. To connect with them, you must have an in-depth and accurate understanding of their interests and needs, and how they intersect with your brand. A credit union member survey conducted by Kelton Research revealed that many individuals join credit unions in order to obtain credit and loans that might have otherwise been outside of their reach at a big bank. An NCUA report also stated that the average credit union member is 47 years old, while adults 18 to 24 made up only about 9 percent of total memberships. Gather all the information you can about your industry and your organization’s audiences in order to better address what will make your credit union different from the rest.

Forge personal connections.

Emotional connections create memorable and unique experiences. Find ways to communicate with your members on a personalized, one-on-one basis, thereby creating intimate connections with them and better positioning your brand as a trusted, reliable partner rather than just another financial institution. Instead of boasting your low auto loan rates with only dry numbers and figures, create a meaningful connection by painting the picture of a daughter’s first car, carrying her off to college. These sentimental ties can take your credit union much further than a low APR ever could.

Know the competition of your local credit union.

Identify the differences and potential weaknesses of your competitors and use your insights to strategically differentiate your credit union from their organizations. Big, national banks are a staunch competitor of credit unions as they offer similar services, however their relationships with their clients differ drastically from the connections between credit union members and credit unions. According to the credit union member survey previously mentioned, 62 percent of members feel their money is safer at a credit union than at a bank. Use this to your advantage by positioning your credit union as a trustworthy alternative to financial giants.

Honor your brand promise.

The journey to establish an immersive brand experience is not complete upon implementation. You must ensure that your team members uphold your brand’s standards and promises, creating a fully cohesive environment for your members. Develop best practices for employees that follow and support your brand’s unique characteristics and make certain that each staff member has a clear understanding of how to consistently deliver the experience.

Have you created a unique brand experience for your members? How have you helped your credit union differentiate itself from competitors? Let’s talk strategy in the comments.