“Thank you.” They are two of the most powerful words in the English language. During this Thanksgiving season hopefully you will hear those words more often than usual. But the reality is as a society we sometimes jump from Halloween to Christmas. We don’t pause long enough to truly say thanks to those around us.

Saying “thanks” should be a key component to your brand—especially during this holiday season. Great brands focus on people and there are many groups you should focus your thanks on right now.

Here are four ways to have a thankful brand:

(1) Thank consumers. Sincerely.

Thanking people for doing business with your credit union or bank should not just be a seasonal activity; it should be a part of your every day routine. Competition for financial services is astronomical. So don’t take consumers’ business with you for granted. Sincerity in how you thank is critical as well; watch rote “thank yous” and going through the motions. Simple acts like sending Thanksgiving cards to your top depositors, giving branch visitors a piece of candy with a thank you note or having staff sincerely say “we are grateful for your business” are ways to thank consumers.

(2) Thank staff. Creatively.

No matter what your brand vision or brand niches are, it’s your employees who live your brand every day. So be sure to thank them for being the public face of your organization. While words of encouragement and pats on the back are good, brainstorm creative ways to recognize staff. Ideas include gift cards to grocery stores (people are cooking lots this time of year), a few hours off during the day to do some extra shopping and throwing a killer holiday party people will talk about for years.

(3) Thank back office. Publicly.

It’s easy to recognize that are on the front lines; the ones making the loans, talking to consumers and opening accounts. But the reality is your level of external service will never exceed your level of internal service you provide each other. So thanking those collection officers, accounting personnel and IT geeks is part of your brand as well. Some “behind the scenes” folks may not want public recognition but most would appreciate it. Ways to thank back office staff include taking their pictures and using those photos in a promotion, e-mailing the entire staff recognizing those key departments and taking them on a long, special lunch.

(4) Thank community. Humbly.

“Community” is an overused crutch word in credit unions and banks. Every institution loves the community or all about community service. We also tend to “toot our own horns” when it comes to what we are doing in the community. While that is certainly good public relations, during this Thanksgiving season take a different approach. Try giving to the community in small ways that don’t require a public service announcement or a photo of your CEO giving a giant check. For example, volunteer hours in a children’s hospital, give gift cards to the elderly at retail establishments and make an anonymous donation to a low-profile charity.

As credit unions and banks we have lots for which to be thankful. Our consumers. Our employees. Our communities. So let’s make thanking those groups in tangible ways part of our holiday traditions this year.

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