Alaska CU Seeks To Leverage The Outdoors Indoors

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Alaska has the most land area of any state in the union, and the lowest population density at just one person per acre, making for a lot of "outdoors" here.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Alaska USA Federal Credit Union is drawing upon outdoor themes-from animals to landscapes to people participating in outdoor sports-for its marketing.

According to Liz Behlke, Alaska USA FCU's vice president of marketing, each of the credit union's 45 branches have poster frames that managers charge out three times per year for the different campaigns.

"Our members like variety, but they like the campaign to relate to Alaska," she said. "When we use a landscape shot, such as a mountain, it has to be an Alaskan mountain, not a Colorado mountain, or our people will know."

"Members like the posters so much, they ask for copies," she added.

Behlke said the use of Alaskan outdoor scenes for in-branch marketing stems from the period prior to the focus on sales within branches. Several years ago, the branches were filled with Alaskan art, which typically featured landscapes and animals.

"When we moved to marketing-oriented materials, the amount of art diminished. To keep from shaking up our members too much, we tied in the same themes. It is good for our brand image, and works well with who we are."

Award-Winning Campaign

Alaska USA's "wildlife and wildflowers" campaign from spring 2004 won a Diamond Award of Merit for point of sale display for credit unions over $1 billion in assets from CUNA's Marketing & Business Development Council.

The campaign consisted of five posters: a butterfly, a brown bear with its cub, a fox with its cub, a bird and a squirrel. Each of the first four animals was pictured with lupin, a purple wildflower, while the squirrel was shown with fireweed, the red-hued floral emblem of the Yukon Territory.

"It was springtime, so we wanted animals with flowers, and sometimes with their babies," recalled Behlke. "The theme was 'Discover,' as in discover different products at Alaska USA."

Last winter's campaign featured birds. Presently, the posters show people recreating outdoors. "Things like a float plane landing on a lake, which is very popular in Alaska. We are specifically marketing our checking accounts-the reasons why checking at Alaska USA is better than anywhere else."

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