Branding is not a project. Branding is not one person or department’s job. Branding is not your logo or your look.

Branding is who you are. Branding is your positioning strategy. Branding is how your employees represent your credit union or bank.

In other words, branding touches everything. With that approach in mind, branding requires you to be “all in.” Not one toe in the bath water. Not wading ankle deep into a stream. But rather diving headfirst into the pool.

Many executives and boards give lip service to branding yet too many times their actions don’t support their statements. Here are some quick questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are indeed “all in” when it comes to your most valuable asset: your brand.

(1) If you are all in with your brand, when was the last time you said “no” to a project, product or event?

A great branding strategy will focus you. With that focus comes laser-like prioritization. Therefore, you will say “no” to certain things. For example, if your target audiences are young people you might say “no” to that senior bingo event you’ve sponsored every year. “All in” with branding means you will stop doing certain things.

(2) If you are all in with your brand, when was the last time you changed how you do something because of your brand?

As noted above, branding touches everything. That means policies, procedures, products, placement of branches and dozes of other aspects of your financial institution. For example, if your brand vision is serving people who live paycheck to paycheck, yet you only make loans to “A” paper then you’ll probably need to update your loan policies. “All in” with your branding means making changes.

(3) If you are all in with your brand, when was the last time you conducted brand training for your staff?

No matter what your brand vision, message and tagline are it’s your employees who live your brand every single day. But they can’t live what they don’t know. Rather than give them generic sales and service training you need to spend time educating them about your unique brand and what they can do every single day to live those brand values. “All in” with your branding means educating your staff on your brand.

(4) If you are all in with your brand, when was the last time you examined your brand gaps?

Every credit union or bank has brand gaps. There can be gaps between your brand and your strategy, gaps between your brand and your operations or even gaps between your brand and your people. For example, your brand messages can emphasize service yet your staff may only provide mediocre service. “All in” with your branding means auditing your marketing for brand gaps.

(5) If you are all in with your brand, when was the last time you fired someone for not living your brand standards?

We fire people for lots of reasons: breaking policy, failing to get along with co-workers or even stealing. But if you are taking branding seriously, you’ll also terminate people for failing to live your brand values and standards. If you don’t have brand standards in place, you may want to start by creating them and putting those in job descriptions and evaluations. “All in” with your branding means holding your people accountable.

It’s easy to say we take branding seriously. It’s entirely something else to backup those words with solid answers to the questions above. If you aren’t satisfied with how well you are “all in” with your brand, then some actions you can take immediately are creating a brand plan, conducting a marketing audit or giving your employees brand training.

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