Great brands are built by people. In working with our clients, we use a customized brand triangle approach which says “management leads the brand, employees live the brand and consumers love your brand.”

Barry Sliverstein, in his book Breakaway Brands, says “More and more, management plays a crucial role in the success of a brand that breaks away from the pack.”

But what specifically can an executive at a bank or credit union do to actually lead their brand? Here are four ways you can lead your financial institution’s brand.

  • Set the tone—It all starts at the top. As a leader in your organization, people are going to follow your example. If your brand is built on service, then how are you serving your employees? They will model what they see from you. For example, if your brand culture is fun then you should ensure the workplace is fun. If your brand culture is putting consumers first then you should put your employees first. You set the tone.
  • Identify the gaps—Every credit union and bank has brand gaps. There can be gaps between your brand and your strategy, gaps between your brand and your employees and gaps between your brand and your operations. As a leader you must know exactly where those gaps exists. If you are unsure where those gaps are a great step to take is a marketing audit. You acknowledge (and fix) the gaps.
  • Work the plan—Every financial institution should have a brand plan in place. This plan serves as a guide to determine your vision, your targets, your training and other key elements. But it’s not enough just to have a plan in place. You also must have follow-up. Examples of working the brand include training your employees on your brand, ensuring your messaging connects with your audiences and establishing a brand retail look. It’s not enough just to have a plan; as a leader you must work the plan.
  • Celebrate the results—One of the keys to a successful brand is maintaining brand momentum. Let’s be honest: from a day-to-day perspective, it’s not always easy for employees to focus on living the brand. One way to ensure they are living your brand culture is to celebrate when they successfully do so. Examples include having a brand day, sharing success stories and always spending some portion of any staff meeting discussing your brand. What isn’t talked about (or celebrated) is often forgotten. You must celebrate brand successes.

Building a great brand requires intentionality. It requires leadership. To lead your brand successfully make sure you are setting the tone, identifying gaps, working your plan and celebrating the results.