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Branding
Three Brand Best Practices for Banks and Credit Unions
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by GINA BLEEDORN

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A spotlight on brand fundamentals for financial institutions focused on growth

“Over and over again, across industries, the brand that is top of mind and physically available is the one that wins every time,” according to The Financial Brand. While it’s true that community-sized institutions can’t beat the budgets of the big banks, they can compete on something even more powerful. “The digital landscape does not require you to outspend across all customer groups – you can do it very effectively if you update your view of the value of your brand.” The good news is that FIs are delivering that kind of brand value. People’s perceptions of financial brands show nearly every key indicator – from differentiation to purpose – is primed for growth. 

In our most recent series on Brand Building for Growth, we’re exploring examples of community financial institutions evaluating and updating their brand and leveraging it as a powerful way to distinguish, define, and differentiate their organizations – both in the marketplace and in the minds of consumers. In her Ask an Expert on brand strategy and fundamentals, Adrenaline’s Senior Director of Strategy Juliet D’Ambrosio says a focus on brand strategy is so influential that “we are seeing an increase in the power of brand to drive business performance” with an 11 point boost post-COVID. But what are some of the brand best practices to build that power? 

To provide inspiration for the industry, we’ve rounded up some real-world examples of what powerful financial brands can do.

1. Elevating the Environment

As Centennial Bank was building a new flagship branch in downtown Riverdale, Arkansas, they focused on bringing brand experiences to life to make the most of this important hometown location. Using customized signage, smart wayfinding solutions and branded environmental elements, including on glass vinyl treatments and a signature color palette and graphics, the location communicates the Centennial brand the moment you step inside. As outlined in the Centennial Case Study, the brand leaned on a “powerful visual storytelling system, where individual branded elements all come together into one seamless experience” to demonstrate pride – both in their brand and the community they serve.

Centennial Bank Riverdale Case Study

2. Living Out Your Values

For any purpose-driven organization, having harmony between your internal values and how you express them externally is essential. That’s what Citadel Credit Union focused on when they embarked on a process to refresh their brand, diving into their legacy as a strong force in their community. As we outlined in Credit Union Brand Building For Growth, Part I, Citadel’s “internal values expressed externally became a rallying cry for the refreshed brand.” Going through a comprehensive brand strategy process, Citadel evaluated their organization from top to bottom, ultimately culminating in their core brand value, which is “building strength” – providing a strong foundation and pillar for growth. 

Citadel Credit Union Rebrand Case Study

3. Shining a Spotlight

Branding the branch environment isn’t just for inside the bank location. Broadcasting your brand outside the branch is a powerful way to let the community know you’re there, setting the stage for proximity marketing that will bring people inside. With competition at a premium in a growing city like Jonesboro, FNBC needed a different kind of branch – to compete with 20-ish other financial institutions in the area. “Challenging banks that have much bigger budgets and mini-mansion branches, FNBC leaned heavily on design as a differentiator,” as outlined in the FNBC Case Study. With inspiring external branding and a soaring façade, FNBC shows that one doesn’t need a colossal scale to stand out. 


FNBC Case Study: New Market, New Flagship

For more best practices, stay tuned to Adrenaline’s Perspective channel for brand-to-branch approaches for financial institutions of all sizes. Also, see Believe in Banking as we track the big trends impacting financial services.  To learn more about customized strategies for your credit union or to speak to one of our financial industry experts, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com 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. 

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