At this year’s Financial Brand Forum a few weeks ago, keynote speaker and brand guru Guy Kawasaki had a terrific offering of wisdom for attendees. One that really stuck with me went a little something like this:

Your brand is the thing that earns your credit union the right to occasionally run promotions to members.

He likened this to the annual National Public Radio (NPR) or Public Broadcasting System (PBS) pledge drives. They don’t pound you all year long for donations but once a year or so, you can expect that pledge drive to hit.

Kawasaki is correct; the same thing does apply to your brand. As marketing calendars and plans continue to evolve and the old-school way of doing things (the calendar-driven “flavor of the month” marketing promotion) fades, brand does take precedence. It is that strong brand offered by your bank or credit union that solidifies its value in the minds of consumers and, simultaneously, earns you the right to push occasional promotions/campaigns towards consumers.

A successful bank or credit union brand is not built overnight (although it can be torn apart eerily fast). Rather, your brand is the result of clear, consistent and constant communication and interaction between staff and consumers about your corporate culture. Your staff, from the CEO down and all points in between, must lead and live the brand in order for your consumers to love it. If all you do is push promotions and campaigns onto your consumer’s laps, they will rapidly reach “advertising fatigue” and fail to respond to any messaging.

That’s the beauty of branding. It’s not a campaign or promotion. It’s a culture. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a promise your bank or credit union makes to its consumers to live every day, in every way.

Yes, your strong brand does earn you the right to occasionally push a specific marketing/advertising campaign or promotion on consumers but this is definitely the lighter end of the seesaw. Your brand is that which drives consumer interaction and opinion about your bank or credit union, not campaigns of promotions.

By working and living your brand every day, you earn the right to pop out a new rate or product promotion every once in a while. Don’t squander your brand equity by after-burning promotions and campaigns onto your consumers. Let them enjoy the rich, full flavor that is your brand and hold back the toppings for special occasions.