MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN -- How can a credit union still make a meaningful investment this year? The best place to start is with the brand, says La Macchia Group.
“Credit union leaders across the country have identified brand awareness as a critical area of focus. They understand that attracting and retaining new members, integrating new technology, pricing and other business growth factors are closely tied to a strong brand identity,” said Stephanie Vierling, interior design manager at La Macchia Group. “Establishing a strong identity and fulfilling brand promises is what leads to brand loyalty and turns members into valuable brand advocates. With most budgets set for the year, we believe focusing on brand positioning is an excellent way to optimize any discretionary funds for your greatest return on investment.
Vierling said credit unions should ask whether they have taken the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing brand.
“If the answer is no, then that is where you need to start,” said Vierling. “Begin by gathering all of your marketing and brand-related materials. Then use a critical eye to truthfully ask yourself and your team if these materials are consistent in messaging and relevant to your audience. Are they fresh and current or are they dated and boring? Do they reflect who you are as an organization and who you aspire to be? That should be your goal.”
Going a step further, Vierling said to use this same “critical eye” to evaluate the CU’s in-person delivery.
“Consider every member touchpoint at your branches and how it relates to your brand,” she said. “You may need to hire an outside consultant to help you honestly evaluate your materials and conduct a facility audit. This analysis alone is a worthwhile investment that lays the foundation for future plans and budget allocations.”
If the credit union then determines its brand needs a refresh, Vierling said identifying a strong partner to guide the CU through the rebranding process is a wise move.
“This process requires further analysis and strategy as well as the actual identity design, creation and activation of the brand,” said Vierling. “Understanding all the critical steps in this process, both the deliverables and the cost implications, is important.”
Also, having an established budget at the start of the process helps the credit union strategize the short- and long-term goals for the brand.
If the credit union has a well-established brand, or recently completed a rebranding process, then it might be time to look closely at the branch locations.
“Does the retail experience convey your brand message at every touchpoint? If the answer is no, then consider investing in a little more planning,” Vierling said. “Whether you have one branch location or multiple offices, it is important to create a strategy for integrating your brand into the physical environment.”
For some credit unions, this could translate into something as simple as new carpet and a fresh coat of paint. For others it could mean finding creative ways to infuse the brand messaging into the physical environment.
“It could also require an even more significant overhaul,” Vierling said. “Through a thoughtful planning process and the help of a trusted partner, you can create a phased plan for transforming one branch or multiple branch locations.”
Vierling said that investing in the credit union’s brand is a wise use of available funds.
“While you may not have all the program funds needed right now, initiating the rebranding process by creating a strong plan is a great place to start,” she said. “A quick fix won’t reap the greatest rewards when it comes to brand loyalty, so think big picture and invest in your credit union’s future. A strong brand will increase your visibility and maximize your ROI this year and in the years ahead.”
To see the article in CUToday, click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
|Stephanie Vierling | Senior Interior Designer|
|Alyssia has focused her career in the interior design and branding of financial institutions, retail and corporate environments. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design with a minor in Psychology. She understands the importance of fusing brand identity with physical space for La Macchia Group’s clients, creating meaningful touch points that enhance the retail experience.|