In that Golden Age known as the 1980s, the American public had to endure not only a Cold War with the Soviet Union but also a Cola War pitting Coca-Cola against PepsiCo. The Cold War employed multiple marketing and advertising campaigns to win the attention of consumers.

As part of the Cola Wars, Pepsi started showing consumers conducting blind taste tests (yes, actually blindfolded, taking sips of both Pepsi and Coke and then describing which one they enjoyed more) dubbed the “Pepsi Challenge.” Could your bank or credit union brands survive a similar blind taste test when it comes to your brand?

Here are some key indicators of brand strength and what your brand must accomplish in order to win in the saturated financial products and services marketplace (note: these are sometimes referred to as the “Three R’s of Branding”).

Reach: To succeed, your brand must have reach. That is to say, it must impact a certain number of people, depending on your marketplace, goals and competition, in order to survive. Reach is driven in large part by marketing and advertising (both traditional and nontraditional) and positive consumer word-of-mouth. Does your brand have reach?

Relevance: To succeed, your brand must have relevance. As noted above, there’s plenty of choice out there for consumers when it comes to financial products and services. Relevance is essentially a fancy way is asking the question “does our brand actually matter to the consumer?” Does your brand promote similar cultural values, norms and awareness that matter to your consumers? A more relevant brand is also a brand with which consumers are typically more engaged and, as a byproduct, more likely with which to interact and share their business. Does your brand have relevance?

Resonance: To succeed, your brand must have resonance. Resonance speaks more directly to the degree of engagement and targeted consumer has with a brand’s content. It also has a great deal to do with whether or not they share that brand message with their friends and family. Resonance is deeply connected to relevance; however, resonance simply cannot exist unless relevance is firmly rooted in the first place. Resonance requires that consumers identify at some level with your brand and then, critically, decide to elevate that identity into a relationship. Does your brand have resonance?

If your consumers (or potential consumers) took part in a blind taste test with your brand, could they identify it from the competition? Key branding elements like reach, relevance and resonance can help your bank or credit union win its own version of the Cola War and capture brand prominence for years to come.

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