What’s Your Brand Superhero?

What’s Your Brand Superhero?

Moviegoers’ obsession with superhero -related films continues unabated. This year alone, theaters screened Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse (they sure do love using colons in superhero movies!). The most current superhero flick is Doctor Strange (which I admit I have an interest in seeing).

There are plenty of superheroes out there. If your bank or credit union brand was represented by a superhero, who would it be and why?

Following are a few examples.

Superman: Your brand is a tried-and-true classic. Truth, justice and the American way. Red white and blue. Straight-forward, to the point and uncluttered. What consumers see and hear is what consumers will get. And they can always depend on you. A good example here is AmeriCU Credit Union.

Batman: Your brand, while appealing, has a dark side. Maybe your brand’s parents were murdered in an alley like the Caped Crusader’s (unlikely). Regardless, people recognize your brand by the powerful symbol it employs. For Batman, that’s the Bat-Signal shining on the gray clouds hanging over Gotham City. For your bank or credit union, it’s a bold logo and tagline expressing exactly who you are.

Hulk: Your brand is a bruiser. Unrefined, uncultured yet powerful. There aren’t a lot of subtle nuances to your brand and it is a brand of few words. Rather than tiptoeing through dark alleys or flying high overhead, your brand prefers to smash walls and break doors to make an impression. A good example here is Navy Federal Credit Union.

Aquaman: Your brand is lame, unappealing and in desperate need of help. Sorry, Aquaman fans. It’s true.

The superheroes that appeal to our inner psyches say a lot about us as human beings. The brands that appeal to us also say a lot about the banks and credit unions that use them. Branding is not a job for the timid or faint-hearted. Rather, it’s a job for superheroes dedicated to hard work, success and a higher purpose. Whatever superhero best fits your brand, approach it boldly and courageously.

Unless it’s Aquaman.

Does Your Brand Say, “Whatever, Eat a Cardboard Box?”

Does Your Brand Say, “Whatever, Eat a Cardboard Box?”

Check out this YouTube video. It’s several years old, but the message about customer service and brand are still vitally relevant.

In it, the disgruntled Taco Bell customer displays the food she claims to have received earlier that day. As you can tell by the video, somebody, somewhere really messed up.

The disgruntled customer clearly and eloquently lays her opinion on the line: “Even though this is fast food and I don’t expect five-star service, this is simply about caring and paying attention to details when you’re working. This says ‘I don’t care what goes out to the customer.’”

That’s a powerful indictment against a well-known fast food brand. Given our age of instant social media access, this consumer was able to quickly and easily post a video expressing her disappointment with the service and the food.

What does the way your employees live the brand say about your bank or credit union? Even though we’re talking loans and checking accounts instead of gorditas and tacos, the same lesson applies. Your brand is your statement to consumers establishing a promise of service excellence. It doesn’t matter how terrific your collateral marketing material looks or how many heads nod about the brand during employee meetings — all that does matter is how every single member of your staff embraces the brand lives it in front of consumers.

Brand buy-in is critical. In the case of this video, a Taco Bell employee (or employees) dropped the brand ball and got negative exposure and feedback in front of a wide audience. Can your bank or credit union afford the negative brand impact that comes from showing your consumers you simply don’t care? Odds are, no.

That’s why every member of your staff, from the CEO’s office to frontline positions and everyone in between must live the brand. Every day. At every consumer interaction. Every dropped brand ball can (and often will) come back to haunt you. So make sure you take care of your consumers in the way your brand promises. And don’t stick a melted taco box inside their gordita.

The Power of Bacon Branding

The Power of Bacon Branding

This entry authored by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director with On The Mark Strategies

A few weeks ago I was in my favorite local grocery store when I came across a rotisserie chicken. Rotisserie chicken is great but there was something special about this one. You see, it was seasoned and topped with bacon. Not just any bacon. “Real bacon.”

This item wasn’t on my shopping list and wasn’t entirely practical for feeding my family. But — it had bacon! I love bacon. Just looking at the word on the packaging and the picture was enough to sell me. I walked out of the grocery store that day the proud new owner of a beautiful bacon-topped rotisserie chicken.

Successful brands are in many ways driven by purposely-selected buzzwords. Advertising in general is also propelled by those words. You probably know many of them from living as an ad-bombarded consumer. Some of the more powerful brand-propelling buzzwords include:

  • Save
  • New
  • Love
  • Healthy
  • Free

And the list could go on. Does your bank or credit union focus on select buzzwords that help propel your brand?

It’s not a matter of simply slapping a word on a direct mail postcard or on your website. The word must be authentic and true to your bank or credit union brand culture. It must also ring authentic and true with your consumers. For example, if you tell consumers you are buzzword “friendly” or buzzword “fast,” then you’d better be friendly and/or fast. If not, savvy consumers will quickly see through your ruse and you are in danger of developing a brand gap.

Buzzwords are called buzzwords for a reason. They buzz in people’s heads, resonating true and generating potential consumer response. Your bank or credit union brand is no different and must offer brand buzzwords that are legitimate and motivating.

And if you can find a way to stick bacon in there somewhere, more power to you.


How Well Do You Understand Your Consumers?

How Well Do You Understand Your Consumers?

If the end of a brutal and atypical presidential campaign taught us anything, it’s this: you must expect the unexpected. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, Donald Trump’s victory astonished practically everybody, Democrats and Republicans, armchair analysts and veteran political pundits.

While there are many lessons to learn from this presidential campaign, one in particular applies to banks and credit unions. Just as candidates for political office must know the voting public, so must financial institutions know the people they serve. If not, you will not establish vital connections (often emotional connections) with these consumers and will therefore fail to build bridges to them in meaningful and long-lasting ways.

Following are a few ways banks and credit unions can help ensure they truly understand their consumers.

Talk to them. This may require you to leave the comfortable bubble of your office, but it’s vital. Get out from behind the desk and visit with your consumers. Hear their concerns. Pay attention to their wants and needs. And make sure they know that you care about the challenges facing their financial livelihoods.

Offer solutions that matter. Your consumers aren’t typically interested in a long list of bullet points that explain how a checking account or loan product works. Rather, they want to know how your products and services can positively impact their lives. In other words, while things like rates and fees are important, your consumers are much more in it for how a particular product or service works out for them in the real world.

Respond accordingly. If, after talking to your consumers and offering solutions to their challenges you find that your bank or credit union still comes up short, own that. Maybe your checking accounts and lending products just don’t reflect marketplace demand. Or perhaps your online access points are substandard in the light of today’s technology. Regardless, if consumer feedback tells you something, your bank or credit union is wise to act on it.

Knowing the people you wish to serve is vital to any business, cause or politician. And while your bank or credit union’s ultimate goal may not be the White House, its cause is the same — to meaningfully connect with consumers in such a way that drives them to cast their vote/wallet share in your favor.

Branding and the Tattoo of Regret

Branding and the Tattoo of Regret

If you followed the 2016 World Series, you know it was a nail-biter. Two perennial underdog teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, went down to the wire before the Cubs pulled off the win and ended a 108-year-old championship drought.

Cubs fans were elated. Indians fans were heartbroken. And one Indians fan found himself with a permanent reminder of making a premature assumption with a tattoo of the Indians logo and the words “2016 Champions” on his arm.

Some people would call this team passion. Others might think more in terms of putting the cart before the horse. Either way, there’s a definite brand lesson to learn here: before you spend a great deal of time, money and energy on your brand, you need to know a few things first.

  • Who you are. This requires asking tough questions about your bank or credit union. What do you do well? What do you not do well? Whom do you serve and who should you serve? Trying to slap a brand on a financial institution before answering these critical questions is foolhardy.
  • Where you are. What products and services do you currently offer? What products and services (and red-tape) should you consider reducing or eliminating? Where do you stand in terms of access, both brick-and-mortar and digitally?
  • What you want to be. A lot of this goes back to your strategic plan. A bank or credit union without a strategic plan is like a ship without a rudder. Without a goal at which to aim, your brand identity will likely falter and flop.

It pays to look both inward and outward when it comes your brand before you present it to your staff and the public. Otherwise, you risk tattooing your bank or credit union with pictures and words that simply do not accurately portray your cultural DNA. And brand removal is every bit as painful and expensive as tattoo removal.