In today’s fast and furious age, we are always looking for quick ways to improve. Fast diet plans that guarantee you can drop 20 pounds in two weeks. Quick exercise regimens that offer ways you can move from the couch to a 5K in a month.

In a similar vein, last year I wrote a post called Five Ways To Improve Your Marketing Today. As the title implies, these suggestions are designed as action steps you could implement right away to see positive and immediate results with your marketing.

Improving your branding does not quite work that way. In fact, as Tom Asaker says in A Clear Eye For Branding, “branding is an ongoing process of renewal.” There is no such thing as a branding “project” because you are always doing branding at your credit union or bank.

Most branding efforts take months and even years to fully implement. Branding is strategic. However, there are some immediate steps you can take that will yield positive improvements sooner rather than later.

Here are five ways to improve your branding starting today:

  • Talk about your brand with your staff—Every single time employees gather for a routine meeting (all staff meeting, branch or department meetings, etc.) you should start the conversation with your brand. For example, if it’s a branch meeting carve out time for employees to answer the question, “how did you live the brand this past month?” Or if it’s some type of management team meeting, ask “how will the decisions we make today impact our brand?” What is not talked about is not addressed. So talk about your brand.
  • Desterilize your branch—Most financial institutions are sterile. In technical terms they are “banky.” You don’t have to completely remodel your branches to have a powerful impact. It’s amazing what a few bright colors can do. You can even take some simple steps like offering free WiFi, comfortable couches, charging stations or a modest kids play area. Visuals and looks matter. So spruce up and brighten up your branches.
  • Tell brand stories—Your brand has stories to tell. These include ways you’ve impacted your consumers’ lives, ways you’ve impacted the community and ways you’ve made financial dreams come true. One practical step you can take immeditately is to start collecting brand stories on a regular basis. Make sure you systemize story and testimonial collection. People connect with stories, not products. So start telling stories.
  • Conduct brand surveys—Branding involves research. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money or time analyzing and crunching numbers. It’s amazing the kind of information you can gather through just doing a simple questionnaire through Survey Monkey. Brand questions to ask include, “What words describe our financial institution?” “When you think of banking, what comes to mind?” and “ What makes us different?” Knowing how your own customers or members perceive your brand is valuable data. So ask people what they think about your brand.
  • Improve your bathrooms—Branding touches everything, including your bathrooms. When we do marketing audits for our clients, we actually do bathroom smell tests. That’s right: how your restrooms smell communicates something about your brand. Make sure you use two-ply toilet paper, use a nice smelling aroma scent, and clean the bathrooms more than just once a day. Your restrooms are actually a form of a brand ambassador. So take care of your bathrooms.

There you have it. Five things you can do today to immediately improve your branding. These are simple steps that provide powerful results.