Dec 23 2008

The Credit Union Brand: What Is It Good For?


For decades, executives have wrestled with creating an organizational identity to express their credit union’s unique nature. In The Credit Union Brand: What Is It Good For, Clarkson University Professor Larry Compeau examined this issue by conducting research at credit unions across the country.

His findings include:

  • Members hold a strong brand identity of their individual credit union. They describe their credit union as reliable, friendly, helpful, and informative.
  • Employees hold weaker perceptions of their credit union’s brand identity than their members.
  • Except for long- tenure members who may have helped build their credit union, credit union members tend not to differentiate credit unions from banks.
  • One point of differentiation for members is that credit unions are “a little more personal” but “not as sophisticated” as banks

From these high-level findings, Compeau then provides recommendations for credit unions to consider as they build their brand:

  • Strategically position the individual brand with a focus on emotional rather than functional qualities.
  • Don’t obsess over a brand name.
  • Enact the brand. Make simple connections for members and non- members about what the brand means.
  • Build a local credit union brand community.
Report Number 173