As a Star Wars geek, one of the movies I’m looking forward to most this December is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As an all-new adventure it is sure to be a box office success.
However, when it comes to your credit union or bank brand, you never ever want to “go rogue.” You know what that can look like:
- A branch puts up a homemade sign or poster
- Someone’s logo wear gets washed with the wrong load and you suddenly have a pink logo
- The loan department gets desperate to hit their growth goals and they do their own promotion
- A well-intended vendor shrinks your logo to an unrecognizable blob
- An entire division feels marketing isn’t doing enough and takes matters into their own hands
Those are not rogue adventures. They are rogue disasters. While you don’t want to serve as a logo or brand Nazi you do have to guard your brand at all costs. Remember, your brand is the most valuable asset you have.
Here are three ways to avoid people, departments and others “going rogue” with your brand:
- Use brand ambassadors—You can’t do everything yourself. So stop trying. Rather than monitor every single branch, department or area get others on your team by creating brand ambassadors. You can even call them brand champions. But whatever their title, enlist someone from every branch to be responsible for following the brand look and brand behaviors.
- Conduct brand training—People can’t live what they don’t know. If you have not trained your staff on your unique brand (and most importantly their role in living that brand) then you are sure to have individuals do their own thing. Brand training includes teaching your staff you unique value proposition, your vision, your targets and the role they play. Your brand is only as strong as how your people are living it.
- Monitor brand standards—Employees can’t meet your expectations unless you hold them accountable. More than likely you have brand gaps in your organization. These are the gaps between what you say your brand is about and what your employees actually do. If your standards are to say hello, shake the consumer’s hand, asking engaging questions and offer a product, how do you know they are doing that? One way to make sure your people are living up to your brand standards is to conduct a marketing audit or mystery shops.
Successful brands are consistent. That means the same brand message and look across all delivery channels, all experiences and all touch points. Bringing that level of consistency to your credit union or brand means eliminating the rogues.
Convenience services – those services designed to make your life easier. In banking, that covers mobile apps, debit cards, payment systems, online banking, online chat (when available), and e-mail customer service, among others. To be honest, I expect e-mail customer service to be a mainstay in every industry, but my health insurance company proved to me recently that perhaps my expectations were too high.
I was having an issue with getting a prescription filled because the insurance company required a pre-authorization first. No problem. I respect that all companies have processes to follow, and I was willing to take the necessary steps to get this medication approved. I logged into my online account and sent an e-mail inquiring on what those steps might be.
Two days later, I received a voicemail message from my insurance company replying to my e-mail. What? I sent you an e-mail and you’re responding by phone? I didn’t have time to call them back and sit on hold forever. I didn’t even have time to e-mail them back immediately, so a few days later, I sent another e-mail with the same question. This time, I specifically requested a response by e-mail. A day later, I received another voicemail from my insurance company responding to my e-mail. This message said they were unable to reply to customers by e-mail but would be happy to help me by phone.
The whole point of e-mailing them in the first place was to save time and communicate back and forth with them when I had small windows of time in my day. Sometimes it is late at night before that happens. How much time am I saving if I spend the time to e-mail them, then have to spend more time listening to their voicemail messages and still end up having to call them on the phone? This is not convenience. It’s the opposite of convenience.
How do your financial institution’s convenience services compare? Do you respond to your customers or members the same way they contact you? Does your debit card cause problems for customers or members who make online purchases from merchants in other countries? Do your branches offer instant issue debit cards to customers or members who either lose their cards or have them stolen? Does your mobile app make it harder or easier for people to access their accounts? Can customers or members access their e-statements through your online banking platform or do they have to log into another site first? Do your so-called convenience services actually make life easier and more convenient for your customers or members?
These (and many others) are the questions all financial institutions should be asking. In a day and age when digital is taking convenience services to a whole new level, those not measuring up will be deal breakers for consumers. If you expect them to choose your financial institution instead of your competition, you absolutely must ensure that doing business with your financial institution is the easiest and most convenient option.
Note: This entry authored by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies
Disclaimer: I’m an avid user of the Tile product and think it does a terrific job of what it claims to do. I’ve used it several times to locate lost items. The proofreading typo above, while unfortunate, isn’t really a rip on the product.
However, the problem with that is — the typo headline really is a rip on the product. Think about it. Consumers trust this gadget not only with their money but also with important devices like smart phones, wallets and even luggage. Would you feel comfortable entrusting the safety of items important to you to a company the couldn’t spell “dorm” correctly?
The photo above keenly emphasizes the importance of what most banking credit union marketing professionals consider a boring and menial task — proofreading. But it proves that, even in our high-speed age of social media, branding and reputation management, the devil is still the details.
As these examples prove, no entity, large or small, is safe from poor proofreading. Heck, Jay Leno made lousy proofreading (and writing) a mainstay of his tenure at The Tonight Show with the recurring “Headlines” routine. And I’ll never forget a newspaper ad from around twenty years ago from a local veterinarian office promising “free rabies with every pet spray or neuter” (forgetting the key word vaccine). Free rabies? Heck, yes!
The same thing applies to your bank or credit union. Typographical errors, whether in print or in digital format, can erode consumer trust in your brand.
Yes, proofreading is a real pain in the butt. The last thing you want to do after you spend hours creating content for a particular piece is to go back over and read it, line by line and word by word. But you simply must.
You should also allow an outside set of eyes to take a look at your content. A natural byproduct of producing content is allowing our eyes to glaze-over as we read and reread the same words. This outside set of eyes gives a fresh take on your content and is an invaluable source to help make sure the words you’re producing are the words you meant to say.
Proofreading is nobody’s favorite thing to do. But if you value your bank or credit union brand, you’ll take the extra time to ensure your content is accurate.
For the past couple of decades, if you wanted a go-to dump-on source when it came to talking about poor customer service, the cable television industry was your guy. Consumers routinely (and usually rightfully) griped about lousy service, bad attitudes and those infamous “installation windows” that usually meant you had to take a day off from work to be home at their convenience.
Recently, at least one cable provider has made an effort to improve its service and its reputation. Time Warner Cable, capitalizing on sour consumer sentiment, launched a series of commercials with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor.
Banks and credit unions are certainly not immune from negative public sentiment. While we talk a lot about great service, a wide variety of products and easy accessibility, consumers may not see it that way. Just because we pat ourselves on the back about something in the boardroom does not necessarily mean it translates that way to Main Street.
To ensure your consumer service is authentically good and received well by the communities you serve — you might consider a marketing audit. As the creator of the bank and credit union marketing audit, On The Mark Strategies is expertly positioned to conduct a deep-dive into your marketing and brand strategies and tactics. A marketing audit also takes a close look at your competitors during mystery shops and, often with compelling results, also reveals quite candidly how your own staff reacts to a new potential consumer during high-stakes internal mystery shops.
A marketing audit will also give you suggestions for overall improvement, money-saving ideas and industry best practices all with the forward progression of your brand in mind.
David Estridge, EVP of Christian Community CU (Covina, CA, $624 million assets, 31,000 members) said after a marketing audit with On The Mark Strategies: “Everything matters. From the logo on the pen to how we answer the phone, how our lobby looks and the friendliness of our website. Every aspect of who we are and what we do or not do impacts our brand.”
To make sure your bank or credit union isn’t riffed by consumers like the cable guy, check out this short video on the power of a marketing audit and contact Mark at (214) 538-4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here comes another Sharknado sequel. This time cleverly playing off the most recent Star Wars sequel, SyFy network marketing whizzes titled the installment Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. How does it apply to branding at banks and credit unions?
The original Sharknado, made on shoestring budget, was a viral sensation. For a variety of reasons, the film designed to be so awful that you couldn’t not watch it was a hit across multiple demographics and an advertising bonanza for its parent network. With an oddball cast, horrifically bad special effects and pop-culture references and cameos, there’s a little something to love for everyone.
Sharknado also offers a few lessons for bank and marketing brand professionals.
- You must have something interesting to talk about. If your brand and/or marketing calendar is all about recycling the same old thing every year, consumers will rapidly lose interest. It is a hyper- competitive and tough financial services marketplace out there. For your brand to take a bite out of the competition, you must have something truly impressionable for consumers to chew.
- You must make social media work. Network marketers leveraged social media to help launch the first Sharknado movie as well as its sequels. In fact, SyFy ran a contest on Twitter to help come up with a title for the second film. Fans jumped all over the opportunity to be a part of schlock movie history. Similarly, banks and credit unions must leverage the social media platforms popular with their members. The odds of the consumer picking up and reading a brochure? Slim. The odds of that same consumer reading a post or tweet? Much better.
- Your brand must have a hero. In Sharknado, the hero is resurgent B-List celebrity Ian Ziering. Your bank or credit union, however, doesn’t need to hire an out of work 90s television star. You have your own built-in heroes in the form of your members and customers. Talk to them. Find out ways in which your financial institution has helped them reach their financial goals. Then leverage their images and stories in your brand playbook. Consumers relate to authentic people with whom they feel a genuine connection.
The newest Sharknado movie, while probably not a summer blockbuster, likely will make enough money to justify a fifth installment next year. As a lover of sharks and bad movies, I will definitely watch. Your bank or credit union can learn from the brand juggernaut that is Sharknado. And remember — if you can get David Hasselhoff in your advertising, always get David Hasselhoff in your advertising. Instant win.