Banks & Credit Unions Need Brand Identity

by Feb 10, 2016Branding, Marketing

Banks & Credit Unions Need Brand Identity

by | Feb 10, 2016

Trusted. Secure. Convenient. Simple. Blah de blah de blah.

Talk about a saturated market. It only takes one morning commute to see a bank or credit union operating on every other corner. Between the FDIC and the NCUA, there are about 12,500 banks and credit unions in the United States.

That means you’re more likely to see a financial institution than you are a Starbucks.

The Problem

The banking and credit union industry is in crisis. Everyone looks the same, and is saying the same thing. Nobody’s communicating anything special.

“Financial security,” “friendly service,” and grey suits on the homepage don’t mean canned peas when 10,000 other organizations are exactly the same.

As a result:

  • Marketing programs are ineffective.
  • Competitive differentiation is absent.
  • Growth initiatives, such as a merger, acquisition, or expansion into new markets are too complex and challenging.

Leadership is left feeling confused as they wonder if marketing is more magic than science, worried that their customers don’t know what makes them special, and afraid that growth and change could seriously throw off their company’s equilibrium.

There is another way.

Brand Identity is the Solution

A brand’s identity is the essence of the organization. It’s the culmination and outworking of all it values, its unique personality, history, story, and audience.

It’s expressed visually in business cards, letterhead, physical environments, websites, brochures, and logos. It’s expressed verbally in all written communication, whether by email, blog posts, or social media. It’s even expressed out loud when phones are answered, in public speaking, or the way a teller greets a customer.

When brands operate out of their authentic identity, their messaging and marketing hit the bullseye. They stand out, and they can adapt and change smoothly.

The real problem is this: the industry is saturated with brands that are not operating out of their authentic identity.

The good news is that you don’t have to anymore. In fact, if you want to grow, you can’t afford to be anything other than yourself.

Three Significant Benefits of Branding for Banks & Credit Unions


1.  Marketing that actually works.

The famous adage in marketing is “I know 50% of my marketing works, I just don’t know which 50%.” Brands who understand their identity and craft messaging out of that identity will begin to deeply resonate with their audience. Expect higher returns on marketing through all channels.

Think of it like this: Banks are asking their marketing directors to throw a party for high schoolers but giving them veggie trays and wheat thins to serve as appetizers. Developing an authentic brand identity is giving your marketing director a stack of pizzas and soda. Get ready for a party.

2.  Competitive differentiation.

Defining your brand’s identity will help reveal what is special about your company. It may include a service, a personality, or an internal value you hold strongly. Whatever it is, defining it and communicating it will not only set you apart from the competition, but will give your loyal audience the tools to talk about you to their personal networks.

Think of it like this: CEOs and marketing directors are leading a football team onto the field only to find the other team showed up wearing the same uniform. It doesn’t take long for everyone to become thoroughly confused. How does anyone know who to root for? Don’t be surprised if many walk away celebrating a win when, in fact, their team sadly lost. A defined brand makes it clear who to root for. You, your team, and your audience deserves that.

3.  Change becomes smooth.

Leadership changes, banks merge, credit unions acquire other credit unions, new services or products are offered, and new regions and markets open up. Change happens constantly in this industry. Every one of those situations can be very tricky to navigate and downright overwhelming without the right structures in place. Defining your brand identity makes it easy to engage new markets, add new services, or adopt new leadership. It sets a baseline from which all growth and change can build.

Think of it like this: Marching bands learn one fight song for their university. If the marching band went to every game and played a different fight song, chaos would ensue. Home or away, the crowd would never know which song to sing along with. But when there’s only one fight song played over and over, it becomes a battle cry for all to rally behind. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, what city they’re in, or who the coach is. The fight song remains the foundation for all enthusiasm and spirit.

Identify Yourself!

The banking and credit union industry is in a crisis. Organizations who want to grow need to begin with the foundation of a defined brand identity. Define core values, personality, a purpose, and audience, and work those things into every visual and verbal aspect of your company. Then grow with confidence. Grow knowing your marketing is delivering significant returns. Your audience will know exactly what sets you apart from the competition, and you can adjust and pivot as needed without having to reinvent the wheel. It’s a smarter and more peaceful way to grow. I highly recommend it.

Resound Creative is a branding and experience design team. We love helping companies discover what makes them special and how to communicate that well. Please contact us to talk more about what that process would look like for your company. 

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