This post is a follow-up to an article posted on

 As I sat in the movie theater the other day, completely absorbed in the tender moments of Disney’s “Christopher Robin” movie, I was reminded of something most Pooh lovers don’t learn until their adult years. Winnie the Pooh isn’t just a honey-eating, silly old stuffed bear. I was even more delighted when I realized his wisdom doesn’t just pertain to life in general. It also applies to marketing and branding for financial institutions.

Following are quotes from the movie, spoken by the world’s most philosophical bear, along with how you can apply them to your credit union and bank marketing strategies.

Pooh: “I must go forward to where I have never been instead of backwards where I have.”

Financial institution application: In the movie, Pooh is faced with both the fear and reality of leaving the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time. He contemplates turning back, but he knows he can’t if he wants to change his situation.

The same is true in bank and credit union branding. You cannot go backward and expect your brand to move forward. Even when you know you’re taking your brand in a new direction, it’s so easy to revert back to what you have always done and what you already know.

Moving forward starts with your employees. A study from Raddon, a Fiserv company, found that 55 percent of financial institution employees are disengaged with the brand. Encourage employees to take ownership of your new brand direction, messaging, visuals, fonts and tagline through member experience training that turns employees into your best brand ambassadors. And if you don’t have a brand guide, create one with all of these elements included. Use that guide for everything you do until it becomes a habit. Do not turn your back on your brand.

Pooh: “Doing nothing often leads to the very best something.”

Financial institution application: Doing nothing isn’t always the best approach, but simplifying is. When we conduct marketing audits for credit unions and banks, we frequently observe too much copy, too many different messages in one marketing piece, too many colors that don’t match the brand and the like. Instead of promoting all loans at one time, choose one and target your audience.

Use fewer paragraphs and more bullets in your copy too. Your members or customers only want to know what’s in it for them. When it comes to online marketing, TIME recently showed that most users spend less than 15 seconds on a web page. If you haven’t communicated what’s in it for them during that time frame, they’re lost.

Pooh: “Some say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

Financial institution application: That’s an interesting perspective, and perspective is everything in marketing and branding. How many times has your financial institution made decisions based on what you think consumers want, only to find out they wanted something completely different?

Your brand isn’t what you think it is. Your brand is how your members or customers perceive it. Your marketing message shouldn’t be about what you offer. It should communicate how consumers benefit from what you offer. Do you see the difference? One message and perspective focuses on you. The other focuses on the consumer.

In his book “Building a Story Brand,” Donald Miller rightly says, “Positioning the customer as the hero in the story is more than just good manners; it’s also good business.”

Make your brand and marketing about your customers and members.

For a “bear of very little brain,” as he is described in the movie, Pooh offers some interesting insight which can be applied to many areas of life, including marketing and branding. Move forward, not backward. Keep it simple. Make your brand about consumers. Those are some very valuable lessons from my generation’s favorite silly old bear.