The prolonged downturn in the economy delivered two vital, and painful, marketing lessons that credit unions share with many businesses. First, a brand is the life jacket you need to survive long term in a down market. Second, the biggest opportunity for growth lies with your core member base.

Building a brand requires maintaining a productive and consistent dialogue with members and groups of prospective members. Using the correct messaging and marketing processes keeps your credit union top-of-mind and gets you in the game when people are shopping for a loan, a checking account, or looking for help solving financial problems. Using generic, put-your-logo-here creative is not branding nor is it a sound marketing process. A brand presents consistent graphic elements that subtly tie your messages together, and ongoing marketing messages convey a consistent brand personality.

No Magic Bullet

Once you develop relationships or awareness through effective branding, don't take those members for granted. In a time of financial uncertainty, the best opportunities lie with members who already know and trust the credit union. Yet many credit unions have lost focus on their core member in favor of going after magical new sources of business.

There is no magic marketing bullet the key is reach out to members and prospective members consistently to build awareness and trust using the correct messaging, branding and marketing processes. Then you must deliver operational excellence to back it up.

Paul Lucas
Branding and marketing consultant
Fairfax, Va.

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