4 Super Bowl Branding Lessons From Super Bowl 55 Commercials

Mark Arnold
4 Super Bowl Branding Lessons From Super Bowl 55 Commercials

Pizza. Wings. Chips & Guac. Tom Brady. Those are the words that typically come to mind when you think of the Super Bowl.

And the commercials. You can't forget about the commercials. Although I’m an avid football fan (especially fantasy football), I honestly watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.  While this year’s advertisements may not have had any award winners, a few of them did teach several key branding lessons for credit unions and community banks.

Here are four commercials that didn't just stand out—they taught a branding lesson:

Super Bowl Branding Lessons: Remember Your History — Bud Light


For twenty years, Bud Light has brought us many memorable Super Bowl moments and characters. Whether it was Cedric the Entertainer shaking the beer, the Bud Light Knight defending the beer or the Bud Light legend singing about the beer, they have had great success. Rather than going in a new direction, this year they remembered their past.

When building (or reinventing) your brand you never want to forget your history. As the old cliché says, “Dance with who brung you.” For example, we were recently taking a credit union through our trademarked rebranding process. Through that workshop we help them identify key target audiences (as Donald Miller famously says, “niches lead to riches”). They needed to expand to a broader community and identified a few new niches. However, one of their target audiences still remains their original core membership base. Why? Because there are still plenty of growth opportunities within that group.

Key Takeaway:

When focusing on your brand, remember your history.

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Super Bowl Branding Lessons: Use Emotion — Toyota

If you want inspiration, go no farther than watching Toyota’s commercial about Jessica Long (a 13-time Paralympic gold medalist). From the opening scene to the line “We believe there is hope in all of us,” the spot pulls at your heart strings. Simple, yet emotional.


The most successful brands today are those that engage consumers on an emotional level. Let’s be clear: branding is emotional.

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You have to communicate your message clearly, quickly, and credibly while striking an emotional chord. As the marketing people at Harley Davidson say, “Advertising grabs their minds—branding their hearts.” So how do credit unions and banks bring emotion into commodities like checking accounts and loans? You find your most passionate consumers and listen to them. You tell their stories (not yours).

Key Takeaway:

When focusing on your brand, use emotion.

Super Bowl Branding Lessons: Make it Local — Door Dash


“You can get all sorts of things delivered from the neighborhood,” sings Big Bird and Daveed Diggs. While it doesn’t hurt to have Grover, Cookie Monster and other iconic characters in the spot, the essence of the message is clear: it’s all about local (from convenience to corner stores to Mom & Pops).

super bowl branding lessons

For your credit union or community bank to grow, emphasizing local is the place to start. It differentiates you from the top 10 big box national financial institutions that control 77% of all the U.S. assets. Beyond just going local, however, we recommend a “hyper-local” strategy. In other words, “own the circle”: draw a two, three or four mile radius around all your branches and “own” every interaction within that circle. This includes advertising, businesses, events and homeowner associations. You should involve yourself in any activity within that circle. Big box brands cannot possibly have the type of inside knowledge you can possess with a hyper-local strategy.

Key Takeaway:

When focusing on your brand, make it local.

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Super Bowl Branding Lessons: Give Back — Budweiser & Kia

As Adweek noted, several notable brands sat out this year’s Super Bowl and gave money to good causes. This is the first time in 37 years Budweiser didn’t participate and the first time in a decade with no Kia spot. In place of their high-priced ad, Budweiser is using its marketing dollars to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccines. Kia is investing their Super Bowl marketing dollars an “Accelerate the Good” initiative.

super bowl branding lessons

Your brand is not about you. It’s about them. Taking an outside in approach to branding means investing in the consumers you are trying to reach. Now more than ever people need help from credit unions and community banks. For example, Grow Financial conducted an entire “Grow on Us campaign” recently where they invested in small businesses. That type of branding spreads word of mouth marketing, which is the best way to grow your brand. When examining your brand, examine your core values. Look for ways that your givebacks tie to your values, your brand and your value proposition.

Key Takeaway:

When focusing on your brand, give back.

One other thing Super Bowl ads teach us is that brand awareness is fool’s gold (anyone remember Pets.com and the sock puppets?).  Your brand must remember its history, use emotion, make it local and give back.

If you apply these brand lessons, you'll not only raise brand awareness; you'll also achieve brand growth.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO