As evidenced by the growing M&A trend among credit unions, growth is imperative for FIs of all sizes. For some CU leaders, “merging may appear the easiest solution, finds CU Insight. “However, there are other options that may better suit your institution.” One of the solutions the publication outlined is embracing the credit union difference. And in part one of our Credit Union Brand Building series, we discussed just that – what it looks like when a CU centers their purpose as a platform for growth. Now, we’ll explore best practices for standing out.
“Rebranding around a purpose, elevating it and telling the story of the brand has a huge business impact,” according to Adrenaline’s Juliet D’Ambrosio. But to make that difference really matter in the minds of members and prospects, CU brands have to truly “stand out with marketing.” In her recent session at the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference, she explored ways of creating those resonant and relevant credit union brands, along with marketing systems for expressing their unique brand values.
Watch the On-Demand Webinar “Future-Proofing: Building a Credit Union Brand That Drives Tomorrow’s Growth” here:
Getting on the map with members as a brand expands and grows is a financial services industry imperative. For credit unions with geographically limiting names, the institution has even more to overcome. Such was the case with a Los Angeles-based credit union, Western Federal Credit Union, as they expanded their geographic footprint and reach. With a goal to be the first credit union with a truly national unified offering, Western had to first move past their legacy name and remove all the barriers to entry. Enter: UNIFY.
In a bold, organizational upturning move, Adrenaline helped Western change their name to UNIFY. “What they did was to tell the story of creating a member experience that was unified around their needs,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio. “And was a unified experience across the country.” The logo represented that unification – using an infinity knot that has the member right in the center. Driving their success, UNIFY deployed a very strategic cadence of member and market communications to roll their new brand out.
“While this new name represented a huge change for the credit union,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio. “Believe it or not, that wasn’t the biggest part of their story.” Becoming the first-ever credit union sponsor of an NFL team was – as UNIFY was announced the official sponsor of the LA Rams. Demonstrating hometown love, but getting national recognition at the same time, UNIFY “juiced that sponsorship for all it was worth with advertising and integrated marketing that put them on the map and established UNIFY as a true player” in the LA market and beyond.
Tapping one of the most recognizable and beloved LA Rams players, UNIFY selected John Johnson III to tell their unique story. “So there's certainly star power there,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio. “But what's really amazing about this kind of marketing is that it's irreverent, it's funny, it's witty, it's lighthearted, and it tells a different story than people expect from a credit union.” Breaking out of lifestyle-lifestages marketing, this unexpected approach offered a new way for members to see what a credit union had to offer and attracted people who might never have considered a credit union before.
Huge benefits came from this partnership. UNIFY not only garnered industry attention, winning top honors in the coveted Addy Awards advertising and Telly Awards video competitions. But more importantly, UNIFY realized chart-busting returns. Over the past three years alone, the credit union has grown 33%, representing a full third of their value. It’s also important to mention that while this was a large financial investment, “this kind of approach can be adapted to work with any level of investment in any part of the country,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio.
In our next article in the Credit Union Brand Building for Growth series, we will look at ways credit unions are building meaningful experiences for their members. Stay tuned to Adrenaline’s Perspective channel for brand to branch best practices and to Believe in Banking as we track the big trends impacting financial services. To learn more about customized strategies for your bank or credit union or to speak to one of our experts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 412-6903.
Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.