On Branding: 9 Free Ways To Buff Up Your Brand

Gas prices are going up. Home sales and new home starts aren’t going anywhere. And grocery prices are starting to make gas look cheap. Yes, if feels like overnight our economy went from busting through the seams to just plain bust. And everyone is being asked to find more business while spending less money.

It’s tough. So, what’s a CU BOD, CEO, COO, CMO or marketing director to do?

As painful as economic downturns are they can have a positive impact on any business willing to stop and replace indiscriminate spending with initiative. It’s time to put things in order so you’re prepared to make the best impression possible on members and prospective members.

Below are nine ways to buff up your credit union brand for free. And if you avoid future clutter and eliminate unnecessary printed materials you might even save some dollars along the way.

1) Clean up branches–make sure windows, entryways and lobby carpet are sparkling. You wouldn’t wear stained clothes to a job interview–so why would you let prospective members walk into your branch and find it less than stellar?

Throw away dated posters, brochures, fliers and Web page information. Go through closets, cabinets, your branches and especially your website and throw away everything that is outdated or extraneous. If you don’t need it, toss it. Your branches should have minimal brochures, fliers and other clutter junking up your first impression. And information on your Web page should be clear and easy to find and read based on value, benefits and then features in clear easy to digest bullet points. Less is best.

2) Call and check out your on-hold messages– keep them short and try not to repeat them too often. It makes a terrible impression when messages are outdated or just torture to listen to.

3) Ban bad music from branches. It’s torture for everyone and it’s good for no one.

4) Make sure your logo and tagline always appear in the correct fonts, layout and colors. Establish standards and stick to them.

5) Distinguish what makes your credit union special in your marketplace and aggressively repeat that a core message everywhere.

6) Know your competition and how to sell against each of your main competitors not by doing a rate audit but rather conduct a marketing audit of your key competitors. Build charts comparing your products and services and up-sell these at your POS.

7) Get back to the basics. Focusing on two to-three core products and services can you bring you more growth than trying to be everything for everybody.

8) Make sure the entire staff is on the same mission. Take the time to communicate with everyone about your brand and make sure they understand how their jobs fit into the big picture.

9) Once you are doing the big brand and marketing things right focus on the little things you do, this will make your brand stronger.

Paul J Lucas is a national marketing and branding consultant. For info: www.PaulJLucas.com or email paul<at>pauljlucas.com. (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com