When discussing the importance of brand loyalty with banks and credit unions, we often touch upon the importance of “lovemarks.” Lovemarks are, as described by their website, “… the future beyond brands, they inspire loyalty beyond reason and deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Simply put, they are products, people and places you love.”

Think about the brands you love and why you love them. Odds are, most are “sexier” brands, such as Apple, Amazon and Target. People are often loyal to brands such as these, beyond reason. However, one of the top brands people typically mention that they absolutely love is Harley-Davidson. As shown in the photo above. Here is a man who, upon passing away, made it a part of his will that he be buried with his beloved Harley-Davidson. This is a man that definitely wanted to take it with him.

Is that loyalty to a brand beyond reason? That all depends on your perspective. To this gentleman, being buried with his Harley-Davidson was no more unreasonable than say, people waiting in line for days for the newest Apple gadget. Or people paying ridiculous amounts of money for their favorite designer cologne or perfume.

The point is — the brand was able to create loyalty in its niche base beyond reason. And there is no reason why your bank or credit union should not strive for the same.

Admittedly, financial products and services are nowhere near as sexy as souped-up motorcycles, fancy perfumes and cool electronic gadgets. But, people need the products and services provided by your bank or credit union. The trick becomes developing a relationship between your consumers and your financial institution that approaches the “lovemark” status.

When it comes to banks and credit unions, this is primarily driven by culture. When you think about it, pretty much every bank and credit union offers the same products. Sure, we may have different names for them and put different colored bows on top, but, for the most part, a checking account is a checking account and a used car loan is a used car loan. People are not likely to remember the bullet points describing the benefits of your products and services. But what they will recall, with ever-enhancing loyalty, is the way you made them feel when they interacted with you.

That is why it is so critical that every consumer interaction revolve around and reflect positively upon your vibrant brand. Your staff, from the back office to the front line, must remind every single consumer, every single day, about who you are and what you do. A great example of this comes from Southwest Airlines. Known for low-cost airfare, Southwest is also famous for its quirky, fun and off-the-wall flight attendants and flight crew. If you’ve been on a Southwest flight, you probably heard a or comment from one of these people that woke you up from the typical flight doldrums.

It is this consumer engagement, far more than mere product cross-selling, that can help you accomplish similar things with your brand. In fact, in order to truly develop deep “lovemark” relationships with your consumers, you may have to sacrifice short-term sales goals for long-term relationship goals.

Brand loyalty beyond reason is not a quick-fix proposition. It will take years of planning, development and training in order to work. In the end, however, it is only this type of consumer relationship building that can move your bank or credit union brand into “lovemark” status.

For more information, Simple Bank founder Josh Reich offers additional great tips at “How a Bank Can Be a Brand You Love.”

And if you ever have a consumer so in love with your bank or credit union that he or she asks to be buried under the lobby, please let us know!