Every day we are surrounded by brands and their influence. How you react to certain brands and brand recognition is a sure sign of that influence. Think of companies that stand out to you – what attracts you to or turns you off to them? Is it a heartfelt message they put out in time of tragedy? An entertaining commercial they ran on Super Bowl Sunday? Or some witty comments on twitter?
While small businesses may not have the same brand recognition as large companies such as Coca-cola, Nike, or Chevy, they still should follow similar brand guidelines. These guidelines allow customers and potential customers to recognize and form relationships with those companies and create a client base that not only knows the products but also trusts the brand. While a credit union’s main focus is the members and their financials, they still should focus on how they present themselves to their member base. So how do credit unions reach out to members and prospective members with their branding, and more importantly, what does the brand reflect about the credit union?
Users will judge your book by its cover
With a lot of businesses, design seems to fall to the side and becomes more of a hassle than a necessity. In reality, design and marketing can be your strongest tool to draw in members’ attention and a key asset in securing their loyalty. Think beyond a credit union to businesses and companies you interact with daily – how well are their websites, logos, and marketing designed?
If you come across a website for a product but it is poorly designed and looks outdated – do you trust it? Does it cast doubt in your mind that their 2001 website may not send you the correct product you ordered or have someone you can call if you have an issue or a return? Building trust with your members should be key in your branding and marketing. With quality design and a well thought out marketing, you can start to build the trust of those who matter most – your credit union members.
It is not uncommon for me to hear companies say, “I have someone who can do my marketing for less” or “I’ll just do it myself.” That’s fine and dandy – I won’t be offended if there is another designer you’d prefer to work with, as long as that person (even if that person is you) truly has the skills and ability to design and maintain a brand for your credit union, and that you’re not selling yourself short to save a few dollars. I know design is not always a top priority for credit unions, but really it should be something to consider. There are so many aspects to marketing and design that when pieced together and given a little more time and consideration could have a huge impact.
Tips and tricks
Improving your brand does not have to be scary. With the right tools and a few guidelines, you can greatly improve how your company is viewed by members and prospective members. Take the time to really think about and plan your big picture.
Keep it simple – The viewer’s attention span is very limited. Do not make them search around for information. Make sure the important information is front and center with short, concise details. Using hierarchy is a great way to make sure the most important is viewed first.
Limit font choices – use a maximum of three fonts. An easy way to add variety is to find a font with different weights (bold, thin, italic etc.) and utilize those instead of searching for another font.
Keep it fresh – Use up to date images and find something less staged, break away from that type of imagery and look for something more natural. Check the technology as well…if you are promoting a new mobile app don’t ruin it with an old brick phone. Want to show you are up to date on security and have the newest features? Keep away from outdated computers in your marketing.
Stay consistent – One of the most powerful uses of branding is recognition. Colors, fonts, logos, and more all play a role in that branding, so do not stray too far from the brand you have created. Recognition creates trust and trust creates stronger relationships between your credit union and your members.
Functionality – Viewers have short attention spans (around eight seconds), so you will need a site that is not only beautifully designed but also functions beautifully. Good design not only draws in attention, but it also serves a purpose in the functionality. If a website or mobile app looks good but is frustrating for the user, they’re going to get off the site as quickly as possible. User experience is just as important as the design. Make sure to test out how smoothly your website or app work and work out all of the kinks before pushing it out to your members.
Remember your vision – That mission statement you worked so hard on and stand behind? Use that as a starting point or when you find yourself looking for inspiration.
Have fun! – Don’t be intimidated by your brand and the design behind it. Have fun and enjoy connecting to your members. While you do not have to be a design expert, you can always play around with your ideas to see what works best.
Be involved – Beyond these few tips and tricks there are other ways to keep your brand front and center of your members. One of the main themes you often see in a credit unions brand is community. Going along with the previous tip, try getting involved in community events – sponsor a 5K, get together a team and volunteer at an event or for a charity, go big and create an event of your own. Show your members that you are also part of the community! There are plenty of ways to get involved and countless possibilities to how you can join in the fun while getting your name out there.
Support your brand, support your members
There are many different aspects to a business and all require the proper attention, don’t let your marketing fall to the sidelines. It could be the difference between a strong business and a struggling business. Seek help where you need it and do not be afraid to trust the experts. Remember that the purpose of your site, mobile app, and brand are all meant to support your members, entice potential members, and help both parties get better acquainted with your credit union!