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.