Everything in your credit union or bank is communicating. While marketing pieces are important, they are just a tiny blip on your branding radar. As Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, once famously said, “everything matters.” Communication - 1

But not only does everything matter, everything communicates. There are thousands of details
every day that are sending messages to consumers about your financial institution. Here are five:

(1) Your voice mail. Your voice mail is not a message center. It’s a branding opportunity. Turn your voice mail into a sales tool by weaving in a brand tagline or message. Or do something totally unique with it. Clever messages stand out in a hyper-competitive market. Most voice mail messages are boring, which communicates that your financial institution is boring.

(2) Your online digital experience. Communication doesn’t just happen in person or at a
branch. In fact, more and more communication is happening online and in the digital channels. So ask yourself this question: how easy is it to do business online with your credit union or bank? The answer to the user experience (UX) question says a great deal about your financial institution. Your online channel quickly communicates that you are easy to work with or you are a dinosaur.

(3) Your greeting. Three seconds. That’s all you have to make that first impression. When someone walks into your branch or your office, how do you make them feel? The initial greeting should be warm, casual and authentic. Don’t put on the fake charm or smile (people will see right through you). A warm greeting goes a long way in communicating you have a warm brand.

(4) Your dress code. How do your employees look? While dress code (business, business casual, casual, etc.) is important, let’s dig a little deeper. How do your employees really look—from a personal grooming standpoint? Is their hair messy and their clothes faded? People form first impressions immediately (that’s why they are called first impressions). Before your employees utter a word the consumer in front of them has already sized them up—most likely by what they are wearing.

(5) Your bathrooms. It’s called the bathroom smell test—and it’s done as a routine part of marketing audits. How your bathrooms smell and look sends a strong (one way or the other) message about your credit union or bank. A brand expert once famously walked the Toys R
Us
CEO into the female restroom at one of his stores and asked, “would your wife feel comfortable going to the bathroom in here?” The point was made.

Like it or not, everything communicates.