Mar 03 2011

Selling the Credit Union Difference: Large-Scale Credit Union Branding

Report  
Number  
229

Credit unions can grow their membership by rethinking their marketing and branding strategy to differentiate themselves from banks.  

Maya Bourdeau
Attune
Jiao Zhang
Attune
Report Number 229

Executive Summary

The Irish proverb goes: “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Credit union leaders obsess over membership growth, and well they should. Gone are the halcyon days when a new employee at a sponsor company meant a firm new member at the credit union. Even important measures like balance sheet health, lending growth, and interest rates will eventually become irrelevant if a credit union can’t sustain membership growth.

But the fragmented marketing world doesn’t make the job easy. According to an article in the McKinsey Quarterly, “the increasing complexity of the consumer decision journey will force virtually all companies to adopt new ways of measuring consumer attitudes, brand performance, and the effectiveness of marketing expenditures across the whole process.” In stark terms: Growing is hard.

What is the research about?

Credit union groups, especially statewide organizations, have a keen interest in publicizing the benefits of credit unions. But, what kind of information will entice consumers to join credit unions? Rather than taking a stab at marketing the credit union difference based on a vague sense of what appeals to consumers, this research sought first to verify messages with actual consumers and fine-tune the output before the outside world could see. The result: A campaign designed to sell consumers on tangible credit union benefits.

What are the credit union implications?

Credit union marketing needs more rigor. This report shows how to get there. This specific project was testing for overall appeal instead of trying to draw consumers to a specific product or institution. Nevertheless, all of the ads, slogans, and artwork tested in this project had to show movement on at least one (and preferably more) of three criteria. Does it: 

  • Catch your attention? 
  • Motivate you to find out more? 
  • Convince you to join a credit union?

This report is sponsored by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.