A brand promise is more than just words, it’s a sentiment that provokes consumer loyalty and trust. That’s why working with branding requires a concrete alignment with the organization’s strategic direction and clear guideposts by which to direct the development and measure the quality of a brand promise.
Consider the two pillars of building a brand promise: making it meaningful and measurable. Many companies run into the problem of wanting to craft a brand promise but don’t know how to achieve both pillars, and without them a brand promise can come off as very vague, even to employees. What it means to one person can be completely different from what it means to another. In order to maintain consistency, credit unions need to ensure everyone remains on the same page, and that means marching toward the same guideposts.
1. Awareness: One of the most important elements of building a brand is for consumers to be aware of it. The more people are aware of your brand, the easier it is to engage with potential customers and get them to join as members. Marketers can measure awareness in the form of direct website traffic, social media engagement and mentions, organic searches and other forms of feedback. If people are talking about a brand online, it won’t be too hard to pick up.
2. Meaningful: A good brand promise builds an emotional connection to customers. Consumers are driven by practical concerns, but they also seek emotional satisfaction and validation. Companies that appeal to a consumer’s ethics or contribute to causes they believe in will realize a greater brand reputation as a result. This is especially powerful for credit unions, who are often seen as community-driven alternatives to banks.
Building a brand promise requires dedication over time and the creation of brand ambassadors outside your workforce. Other organizations may target social media influencers for this, but for credit unions, what works best is simply members encouraging those they know to join a credit union.
3. Trustworthy: Before consumers show loyalty to a brand, they must first trust it. Oftentimes, this means nothing more than providing consistently good service. Organizations may consider setting new customer service standards or policies in place to build a reputation for quick, helpful service.
4. Transparent: Transparency relates to trustworthiness but is important enough for credit unions to be its own category. Credit unions exist to serve their members. This is crucial to keep in mind for both passive engagement (blog content, social media, education) and active engagement (customer service, events, social and web chat). The leadership of the credit union needs to address problems important to its members and the larger community they are part of in a direct and honest way.
A blog can be an excellent way to detail what the credit union is doing, and when complemented by ongoing and open dialog through community events and online channels, it can be very effective. Use thought leadership to provoke conversation and then lean into the other channels to engage members in meaningful discussion.
5. Preferred: Getting consumers to prefer your company over competitors is the greatest goal of branding. Achieving it depends on how an organization differentiates itself from the rest of the market. Providing unique, dependable and high-value services is the easiest route — as long as people know about it. Credit unions should incentivize this and set the right tone.