Guest Post by Rich Jones
Aite Group recently conducted a study and found that financial institutions that are “brand champions” outperform their competitors in market growth, checking relationships and consumer loan growth.
A review of “Brand 101”:
– Brand is not a logo or color pallet
– Brand is not a slogan
– Brand is the sum total of the feelings you have when you do business with an organization. It is a consistent feeling or emotion that you experience.
Your organization’s brand must be different. You must strive to create a category of one…
The brand should differentiate your credit union from the rest. Members and prospective members are looking for value. Here are a few categories of one that miss the mark yet are still used by a lot of credit unions:
1. We are financial services providers. Way too broad! FI’s include banks large and small, credit unions, brokerage houses, payroll lenders, mortgage brokers, etc. This doesn’t differentiate your credit union.
2. We are a credit union. This isn’t unique either. Many consumers now have the ability to join more than one credit union in their marketplace or community. Why should they do business with yours? This doesn’t differentiate your credit union.
3. We provide great service. Really? I bet if you walk into any bank (or any other service provider for that matter) they will also proclaim that they have superior service. This doesn’t differentiate your credit union.
4. We are financial literacy providers. That has become so pervasive that even banks are providing financial literacy tools. This doesn’t differentiate your credit union.
5. We have better rates and lower fees. Have you ever heard of surface marketing? Surface marketing uses an advertised rate that is truly competitive and may indeed be the lowest; however, such rates usually come with restrictions or conditions that prevent most people from actually receiving that killer rate on their loans. Rates and fees don’t differentiate your credit union in a commoditized product suite.
So, what can your credit union do better than anyone else? That becomes your category of one. Here’s a familiar example of what I’m talking about:
Starbucks. What do they do that is reliably different than other coffee shops? They create the Third Place: work, home, Starbucks. They want their customers to linger, get some work done by using their free WIFI, catch up with friends, read the New York Times, or just get that special coffee beverage made consistently with the same high standards of quality.
Your credit union needs to be known for something unique that drives people to do business with you.
What is going to be your credit union’s category of one?
Rich Jones is the Senior Vice-President of Marketing, Business Development, and Business Intelligence at Elfcu in Indianapolis. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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