Wanted: Brand ambassadors
Regardless of who they serve, credit unions rise and fall by their culture, cautioned Stephanie Sievers, a credit union CEO and founder of Think Pink Strategies.
People want to work for organizations that make them feel like their work has value and meaning, said Sievers, but credit unions often have a problem with how they communicate and sell themselves.
“It doesn’t matter what your business plan or your mission statement says – if your company culture doesn’t reinforce that, you’re going to have a hard time creating employees as brand ambassadors. And if you don’t have brand ambassadors, you’re going to have a hard time going out there and getting new members,” she said.
One common problem, she added, is hiring for skill instead of hiring candidates who are aligned with the organization’s vision.
“If you hire people to do that job, they’ll work for the salary, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, then you’ve got yourself some brand ambassadors,” she said.
But CUs too often make the mistake of making their branding too confusing for the communities they’re serving. If a company-branded polo shirt isn’t the exact same color every time, she said as an example, consumers won’t remember it as well as they would if it’s consistent.
“If your colors are blue, wear blue even if you’re sick of it!” she said, adding “It’s not about you – it’s all about the brand, and we’re trying to communicate to the members who we are.”
She offered the “Got milk?” and “Just do it” campaigns as examples – both are decades old, but they haven’t changed a bit, in part because consumers recognize them and the people behind those campaigns have maintained the same messaging, logo, font and more for decades.
Familiarity breeds trust, she explained, so changing taglines, messaging and more can be confusing to members and potential members.