On Branding: 12 Rebranding Essentials

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From Boston to Santa Fe, Seattle to Key West I've crisscrossed the country working with CUs and CUSOs in rebranding and renaming their organizations. After attending countless BOD, annual meetings and staff meetings and working with CEOs, marketing staffs and board of directors here's what I've learned about protecting, changing and growing your brand:

1) It takes a strong, well-informed CEO and chairman of the board to drive a successful credit union brand. Rebranding is a leadership-driven event. Only a strong, fully committed leadership group can successfully drive the effort.

2) Have a clear brand strategy.

3) For all you non-CEOs-your CEO has many balls to juggle so remember your No. 1 priority is to protect and support the CEO. Work "with" your CEO and understand the pressures and demands a rebranding makes on the CEO.

4) Include your managers and key staff in the rebranding process. Their buy-in is critical to success.

5) Rebrand from the inside out. Make sure your staff knows your basic values, benefits and features. Make sure they are prepared to communicate them to your members daily.

6) Be sure to identify and protect your core membership base.

7) In addition to member communications you need a well-crafted media plan that makes the most of your budget. You must work with experts who know how to effectively plan and buy media.

8) Full integration of the brand is essential immediately. Your new brand will quickly loose power and impact if you fail to support it at all touch points. Do not keep using signs, brochures, give-aways or anything with the old name and/or logo.

9) Clear retail messaging is essential; it's always better to be clear than clever or cute. If you work with an ad agency or other outside resources to develop creative make sure they understand that direct, concise messages are a necessity.

10) Business development requires effective management and coaching nonstop. You need a knowledgeable person driving your sales efforts.

11) Set goals and objectives for product and service penetration percentages; member and asset growth; and net loan growth. All marketing and Business Development reps should have at least part of their compensation tied to results.

12) Rebranding doesn't mean slapping on a new logo or tagline. It is about developing a brand identity that sets your credit union apart in the marketplace. A good brand has a foot in the present and one in the future-you rebrand based on where you need to go, not where you've been.

It takes a lot to build and maintain a strong brand. But if you keep these essentials in mind you will get off to a good start. Then the most important thing is to keep your members, your employees and your community engaged and excited about all you have to offer.

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