Branding is a Marathon, Community Bank and Credit Union Marketing is a Sprint

Sean Galli
Branding is a Marathon, Community Bank and Credit Union Marketing is a Sprint

Running a community financial institution sometimes feels like a race. You’re hurrying to put out fires, you’re rushing to get daily tasks done and you’re still tackling strategic hurdles in the midst of it all. But it’s important to note not all elements of your institution’s "race" travel at the same speed.

Specifically, branding is a marathon. Meanwhile, community bank and credit union marketing is a sprint.

It’s easy to conflate branding and marketing, but they have several important differences to consider as you map out your strategies.

Long-Term v. Short-Term

Branding is a long-term play while community bank and credit union marketing is a short-term play.

Constructing a memorable, enticing brand takes time - maybe even years - before you really mark your territory. You need diligence and determination to build a brand, and it must remain consistent. Coca-Cola is a good example. Brand traits like its logo retain core elements from the company’s foundations in 1886. Of course, it only sold nine bottles a day back then…and see how far it’s come since!

Marketing is a shorter-term initiative directed toward furthering the brand and spurring sales (more on these points soon). You calendar out marketing down to specific campaigns in specific months with specific collateral due on specific days. It’s more about the immediate work done relating to the brand than the years-long process of identity.

Personality v. Action

Branding means creating a personality for your community financial institution. Community bank and credit union marketing acts on that personality. If your institution was a body, your brand would be the brain and your marketing would be a limb acting on neural impulses from the brain.

So, all marketing is branding but not all branding is marketing.

Your vision and values are great examples of things comprising your brand, but you don’t typically describe them as marketing. Still, marketing tends to act on these core personality characteristics.

Take Apple as an example. One of its values is accessibility. It’s part of Apple’s distinct personality. The company’s marketing acts on this trait via emotional ads like this one for Personal Voice on iPhone.

So, start by hammering out a solid brand foundation. Then, your marketing will be more effective.

Loyalty v. Conversions

Branding is about cementing consumer loyalty. Community bank and credit union marketing is about sales.

What you are really looking for is the "lovemark," a brand worthy of admiration and trust. Sports teams are lovemarks for many fans…that’s why you see such rapturous reactions to wins. You want consumers to have a similar emotional response to your brand (but maybe with a little less gusto inside the branches).

Obviously, powerful brand loyalty drives incredible sales. But you still can’t sell without the specific messaging and collateral telling people what solutions you offer. In other words, the bedrock needs a house on it. An excellent brand makes the selling easier, but it doesn’t happen automatically.

No matter how wonderful the brand, you still need to tell people about yourself to convert.

And if you need help with either branding or community bank and credit union marketing, On The Mark Strategies has the expertise to get you over the finish line. Book a free consultation now.

Sean Galli
Marketing Coordinator