Building a Corporate Brand Through Personal Branding


In the first article of this series, we discussed personal brands and how they can support you in achieving your career goals. But personal brands aren’t limited to individuals. When developed and used correctly, personal brands can support and establish a corporate brand for your organization. Cultivating a corporate brand is essential for any credit union, but when ignored or poorly developed, brands can achieve very little and have the potential to create demotivated employees, brand confusion within communities, and poor member service, putting your credit union’s reputation at risk.

Overcoming this potential barrier, credit unions can communicate their corporate brand in a brand new way. By putting people through the development of personal brands, individuals can become personally invested in your mission. Much more is at stake personally and professionally. Invest in building personal brands and your corporate brand will naturally succeed.

But what exactly draws the line between corporate and personal branding? How can you overcome any barriers that may be disruptive to your ability to create a corporate brand? Learn how, by taking these practical steps, you can build or strengthen you own personal brand and your employees’ brand for the good of your credit union.

Corporate vs. personal branding

Corporate branding

Corporate branding is a strategy of marketing a company’s products together. Corporate branding includes using the same brand name and identity for a company’s entire product portfolio. When a member thinks of your credit union, what comes to mind? Hopefully they remember more than just your name. Maybe they remember your logo or the mission statement on your wall, or perhaps a special service you offer or the face of a friendly teller. All of these are examples of your brand. When branding is done correctly, members will remember all of this and more when thinking of your credit union.

Personal branding

We discussed personal branding in the first article of this series, so this time we will specifically be discussing how it relates to your corporate brand. While all employees should work to support the corporate brand, they should all be working on their personal brands as well. They are the people and the persona behind the corporate brand, what brings the credit union’s brand to life. When customers think of brand, they want to connect it to a person and an experience. They want to connect to you. If members don’t build trust with staff, they will not trust your credit union.

Celebrating your uniqueness as a competitive edge

Providing excellent customer service is just one aspect of a solid corporate and personal brand strategy. A personal brand demonstrates an employee’s unique qualities and how those qualities give your credit union an advantage over other transaction systems like Venmo, PayPal, or the bank across the street.

In the words of author and speaker Larry Winget, “Discover your uniqueness and learn to exploit it in the service of others, and you are guaranteed success, happiness, and prosperity.” Branding for credit unions should be about developing a reputation of excellent customer service, and your employees’ relentless, persistent, and vigorous pursuit of knowing their own strengths and developing those. This, combined with being in service to others, is what will give your credit union a competitive edge.

Know your destination

In his book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies author Jim Collins writes about setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These goals are meant to excite and energize people in a way that is easily understood and able to be grasped. Think getting to the moon. What are your Big Hairy Audacious Goals for your credit union? Maybe what you are currently doing at the credit union excites you, and you are working to accelerate and build upon that. Maybe you have a vision for where you want the credit union to be in a year or two and the brand you want to establish. Take a moment to take out a notebook, piece of paper, or your napkin and write down your goals. Now that you have an idea or vision for your destination you will need a road map.

Understand the why – the road map

Without, at the very least, a general idea of your destination, how will you know what steps to take to get there? Understanding the why is a process of discovering what you are passionate about, what your strengths are, and how each can be utilized in your persistent pursuit of being in service to others.

It’s your credit union that delivers services, but it’s humans that provide excellent member service. Humans are the foundation for giving your credit union a persona, bringing your corporate brand to life. Acknowledge that establishing your personal brand is hard work and only by putting in the work you will reach your goals.

Understand the why – for the business

Like understanding the why for yourself, you need to understand the why for the business. The why will be the catalyst that propels your personal brand to be utilized for the credit union.

Everyone has something they are uniquely passionate about. Maybe you are naturally drawn to numbers, the person who will not be satisfied until the books are balanced and the bills are paid. Maybe you are passionate about analytics, the strategist who loves to gather and interpret data, formulate reports and making recommendations based on your findings. Or you are the person who loves every opportunity to ensure members leave your building confident their financial needs have been met. Are you the executive in charge of making business decisions for the longevity of your credit union? Or maybe you are the advocate who will climb Capitol Hill to lobby for governance in support of cooperatives and America’s credit unions?

How can the things unique to you be used to support and strengthen your corporate brand? This is the purpose of your personal brand for the business. One of the ways to answer this question is by asking how the things unique to you can be used to develop and grow your current role today. What goals do you need to set to ensure success in these areas?

Setting goals is important because it gives you a framework to achieve milestones. Goal setting provides a clear path. Articulating your vision is the first step toward getting to where you wish to be in your professional life and where you want your credit union to be.

There are many do overs

Branding, whether personal or corporate, is a journey. Ebbs and flows are common. Celebrate the milestones you hit and goals you achieve, but know setbacks are normal and should be expected. Should you find yourself questioning your personal or corporate brand, its purpose, or your destination, go back to the list you made and find new ways forward. Keep going. Credit unions, while businesses, are made of individuals who should be striving to establish their own brands on top of the corporate brand.


  • Julie Gessner

    A 17-year veteran of CU*Answers, Julie has dedicated her career to advocating for financial services that benefit credit unions and their members. At CU*Answers, Julie leads business development and marketing initiatives in support of a variety of management service offerings. Julie spends her days working with credit union executives and managers to establish strategies that maximize the opportunity to succeed in both credit union operations and member service.

  • Connie#1

    August 13, 2020

    Great article Julie. Totally agree–Making a brand is very important.


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