BrandingEverything at your credit union or bank rises and falls on banding. You must make brand the central part of your business plan to have any chance to separate from the many financial institution choices that consumers have today.

But how does that work on a practical basis? Here are a few suggestions.

(1) Be intentional

Great brands don’t just happen. If you don’t invest resources (both time and money) into your brand, then your bank or credit union will not grow. Talking about branding is a complete waste of time unless you are willing to back up that talk with actual actions. How intentional are you actually being with your brand when you keep cutting the marketing budget, delaying a fresh brand look and avoiding training your staff about branding? Branding requires intentionality.

(2) Be focused

Brands are not just about the big things—the details matter as well. Which means you must also focus on everything at your financial institution. How your bathrooms smell, how your employees dress, how your branches look, how your receptionist answers the phone and so on. What is not focused on is not improved. You must have laser-like precision when it comes to your credit union or bank’s brand. Branding requires focus.

(3) Be sincere

Consumers today crave authenticity. You must communicate what is real and authentic about your financial institution. Don’t tell consumers how great you are if your rates aren’t competitive and your employees are rude. You must dive deeply into your competitive difference. In other words, what makes you different from the hundreds of other choices available to consumers when it comes to choosing where they bank? Being sincere will require a deep strategic examination of your credit union or bank. Branding requires sincerity.

(4) Be consistent

One of the greatest challenges with developing a brand is maintaining consistency. But great brands are consistent (across all delivery channels). Being consistent refers both to the look and feel (do your marketing pieces all look the same?) and to the experience (are the online and offline channels the same?). Maintaining consistency requires accountability. What do you do when employees or branches underperform to your brand standards (and for that matter, do you even have brand standards?). Branding requires consistency.

(5) Be centered

Smart organizations center their brand around three groups: management, employees and consumers. Your managers must lead the brand, your employees must live the brand and consumers must love your brand. You can’t “do” branding if you do not center that brand in part around your employees. Training them and coaching them regarding their role is paramount to your brand’s success. Branding requires centering.

Following these simple “be” guidelines gives your brand a much better chance of “being” successful.