Branding Ideas

Decide what you want to be: Branding starts by deciding what really defines your organization. What are the key attributes? What do your members say about you? What do your staff say? Thats the brand. But, dont stop there! Think about where you are headed. How can you stand out from the competition? (And you are NOT about exceptional service – everyone is!) What do your potential members want? What will get their attention? After all, you already won your existing members over: part of a great brand is getting the attention of those you don’t have. Do you have an opportunity to innovate and be known for something unique? Look at other industries other than banking. What are they doing that you could adopt? {Think: you are not just in the financial services industry, you are in the convenience / safety / making peoples lives easier / better business}

Get your staff involved: Gather input from the staff and board as to how they feel about the credit union. Do off-site training and make it fun! How about at a go cart track or laser tag arena! Brainstorm with them about all the ways we could improve the credit union. Where do they see us headed? What service experiences have they had and spend some time educating them on what a brand is and why it is important. How about a staff incentive program tied directly to the brand? Form a committee to spearhead it. This gives you “brand champions” from within the organization to keep everyone moving. And it also makes it in everyone’s best interest to “live the brand” since there are carrots attached to it.

Narrow your focus: Just face the fact that you can’t be all things to all people. Decide what it is that you do really well and be the BEST at that one or two things. Then focus all of your energy there.

Some idea starters: If your CU were a person, how would you describe him / her? Older or Younger? Male or Female? Serious or Fun? What if they were a car? What color would they be? Is your CU a Honda or a Cadillac? An SUV or a sportscar? If all that’s true, what should the interior of your branch look like? The website? How should people answer the phones?

Make a spreadsheet of everything that needs to be changed: Ask all department heads to send you a list of everything that has your logo / colors on it. You will be amazed how many forms one company can have! But they all have to go. Is it an opportunity to streamline some processes and forms? Also, let renegade form-creators to come forward with no consequences. You want their forms too.

Launch it overnight: It’s important that the new brand be consistent everywhere – signage, website, collateral, etc. You don’t want to have one brand on one part of town and another on another part of town. Pick a date in the far away future and work backwards from that date. When do you need things to get to the printer? When do you need the website finished? Then, spend the night at your branches and do a make-over Sunday night, so Monday morning everything happens at once. The impact is astounding to see your company change overnight. Throw away all your old forms, and put up the new ones. Leave your staff a nice little gift from the brand elves to get them excited about your future.

Be logo police: You don’t want anything with your old logo anywhere after your launch. Have fun with it. Put on police hats and issue fun citations to the offenders. Remind your staff to take home old logo stuff – mugs, shirts, pens, trinkets they’ve collected over the years – make it all go away! (but replace it with better, so they won’t mind it so much)

Take advantage of an opportunity: This is your opportunity to really decide who you are. Make it inspiring to your staff and members. Take the opportunity to find something about you that’s so exciting you could write it on the wall! Don’t water it down – do something different. By golly, take advantage!

Every touchpoint counts: Everything – your branches, your call center, your collateral, website – it ALL has to reflect the brand. The hard part is that sometimes you realize that some of your staff don’t really fit with your brand. Let them go – you are doing them a favor too.

Maintain perspective: The marketing department is usually the one that is knee deep in the branding process. Keep in mind that Joe Teller and Jane Manager are not as connected to it as you are. They won’t go into a panic attack when a fellow staff member wears an old logo shirt. Keep a sense of humor about it. Life will go on.

Don’t allow design by committee: No one is going to agree on the logo or the design of the collateral. This is where everyone needs to just trust the marketing department with the collaboration of the nice agency folks or at least limit the number of revisions everyone sees. Not everyone is going to agree, but once you pick one – it’s a lot like putting on a wedding dress. You just know when it is the right one!

Remember that NO ONE likes change: (except maybe marketing people) Change is hard on your staff, your board, your members – don’t let it get you down. Keep your eye on the prize. Everyone eventually comes around. It’s your job to inspire them to get excited about your future.

When you launch the brand, be prepared to hear crickets: Just because you’ve spent every waking hour on this concept, don’t expect that your members will flood the CU with praise the day of the launch. Be prepared that quite the opposite may happen. The members that can’t find the home banking button, the ones that don’t like the shade of blue you chose – those will be the ones that call. Don’t fret! In time, everyone will come around once they get used to the new look. They are just concerned that cheese has been moved.

Remember business comes before people. Don’t water down your brand to get it approved through the channels. This is the most important thing your CU will ever do and the most pivotal to your future – it’s worth a valient salespitch!

Tease your members / staff: Do a teaser campaign to get everyone wondering and to build the anticipation of the brand. Keep it a secret until the day you launch it to the world.

There is light at the end of the tunnel: Branding is full of enormous heartaches, but in the long run it is well worth it. The best part is when your harshest critics say, “You know I really like our brand.” It takes time, but it happens.

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About giraphcu

Greetings and salutations! Welcome to gira{ph}, a strategic marketing firm that helps credit unions amplify their greatness to create chemistry with consumers. The credit union movement has given so much to us. This is our way of giving back. Enjoy!
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