How Much Are You Hassling Your Consumers?

How Much Are You Hassling Your Consumers?

I’ll be honest – there are certain places I avoid shopping simply to avoid the hassle.

What do I mean by hassle? Lots of things. Parking, crowds, selection, etc. The number one hassle that I dread when shopping is the inevitable hit-up from the checkout person.

You know the routine. “Do you have our credit card?” “Do you have our points reward card?” “Would you like to sign up for our credit card reward card?” “Would you like to make a donation to ABC charity?” And then, once you wade through the bevy of questions, you have to wait ten minutes for the foot-long receipt and 4-5 extra coupons for things you will never actually buy.

All this amounts to a huge hassle as a consumer. It got me to thinking – what are banks and credit unions doing to hassle their consumers and what are ways they can stop doing that? While answers will be unique to individual financial institutions, there are some commonalities you’ll want to watch examine.

  • Limited hours and locations. Consumers expect 24/7 access to their accounts. And while you don’t necessarily have to provide that with your brick-and-mortar locations, you certainly do with easy to use and reliable digital access services. Cut back on the hassle of having to physically visit a branch by ensuring that consumers can access you digitally. Examples of this include a “branch in their pocket” represented by a robust app or other mobile platform.
  • Adequate staffing during peak hours. You know the drill here. A little bit of observation will tell you when the crowds tend to hit your brick-and-mortar locations. Make sure you have adequate staffing on hand at those times to handle the consumer need. It’s like the checkout line at your local grocery store – nothing is more irritating than having one line open with a line that goes to the back of the store.
  • Employees living the brand. Your brand can promise all kinds of spectacular things, from friendliness and speed to reliability and efficiency. But that’s just words on paper. Where the brand really comes to life is within your employees. And if your employees are not genuinely living the brand, you’ve broken a brand promise and have a significant brand gap. Brand training can help ensure your staff lives the brand so members can truly love the brand.

It’s a fast-paced world in which we live and consumers increasingly look towards financial institutions that provide the least amount of hassle. Take a look at your consumers’ hassle pain points now to help make sure you are in the running for their business.

Use logo wear consistently

Use logo wear consistently

Note: The following is an excerpt from 30 Ideas to Build and Live Your Brand. For a free copy of the complete book, click here.

Everything you do, and everything you stand for is part of your brand, including your employee dress code. In the past, financial institutions were relatively conservative with their dress codes. As casual dress permeates more and more company dress codes, however, younger employees are challenging financial institutions with their wardrobe choices.

You can avoid this by going straight to logo wear. It ensures that everyone looks professional and avoids differing interpretations of the term business casual. More importantly, it provides a unified look across the organization, just as your signage and other marketing collateral does.

Remember the three C’s of branding? Clarity. Consistency. Constancy. Standardized dress accomplishes all three of these. When your customers or members come to a branch office, they are clear about which people work there, because every employee is dressed consistently, every time these consumers come in. It’s that cut and dry. Logo wear or standardized dress sets a standard that consumers expect to see. People really do notice – even people you might not expect.

A friend of mine purchased a car recently from a dealership with a standardized dress code. While she was sitting with her family in the reception area, waiting for her car to be delivered, her 11-year-old son turned to her and said, “Everyone who works here is wearing the same white shirt.” He wasn’t sure what to make of it, but he knew exactly how to differentiate the employees from the customers. They all had on the same logo wear.

Standardized dress also creates a certain level of staff unity, which is good for your brand. If you think about why some public schools require uniforms, logo wear in business settings accomplishes the same thing. It puts all employees on a level playing field. Employee A might make twice as much money as employee B, but that doesn’t come through in the clothes they wear. Dressed alike, they are all playing for the same team.

These are points you need to mention during employee brand training. Focus on the positives – professionalism and unity. This is not a move to stifle individual expression through clothing. It’s just branding, plain and simple. You still may have employees who don’t like it, but with everyone dressed the same way (including senior leaders), they’ll recognize that fighting it is futile – especially if you are furnishing the clothing.

Yes, you need to build logo wear into your budget. Either commit to providing five logo shirts for each employee or give each employee a clothing allowance. Nothing will kill your brand faster than employees who feel ripped off because you are requiring them to wear something they wouldn’t otherwise buy for themselves and making them pay for it with their own money.

Having a workforce that displays the professional attitudes of your financial institution gives consumers better insight into your corporate values and leads to increased consumer trust in your brand.

For a free copy of 30 Ideas to Build and Live Your Brand, click here.

Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Strategic Planning

Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Strategic Planning

In two recent posts, I’ve talked about the “Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Branding” and the “Seven Do’s & Don’ts of Marketing.” In each piece I offered four ideas you should absolutely be doing in those key areas and three issues you should avoid.

It’s the same way with strategic planning. There are several things you should DO and there are many things you should make sure you DON’T do.

So what are the seven Do’s and Don’ts of strategic planning? Below are four Do’s and three Don’ts of planning.

Be sure you DO the following:

  • Say no—Steve Jobs famously said one of the secrets to Apple’s success was that he said “no” to lots of ideas. For every 100 investment ideas Warren Buffet hears, he says no to 99. When it comes to strategic planning at credit unions and banks the problem is we say “yes” way too much. Every idea seems to work itself into the plan. Stop doing that! At your strategic planning session ask not what can you do, but what should you do.
  • Make it fun—The more fun you have at your strategic planning session, the more likely it is to be effective. If you view it as boring and tedious, then more likely than not your plan will turn out to be boring. Avoid the non-engagement trap by starting the meeting with a fun exercise. At your strategic planning session, focus on building teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Focus your strategy —If you walk away from your planning session with a giant “To Do” list then you’ve failed. The more focused your plan is, the more effective it is. I’ve seen some strategic plans that contain 10 or more strategies. You can’t possibly accomplish all that. So don’t even try. At your strategic planning session, ask what two or three strategic initiatives—that if we accomplished them—would result in a domino of success for us?
  • Use a facilitator—Of course I’m biased on this point! However, the truth is you can’t facilitate your own planning session. At least not effectively. Biases will creep in, people will stay silent when they should speak and you are far more likely to get off track when you do not rely on an outside voice to help you move the session. At your strategic planning session, invest in a professional facilitator who will guide you through an organized process.

Make sure you DON’T do the following:

  • Use too much data—Death by data. If you come to a planning session with charts, graphs and 100+ reams of paper bearing analytical data you just killed your session. Please note I’m not saying don’t use any data. Research is critical when it comes to planning. The key is too much For planning sessions, keep data at a high summary level and then if details are warranted whip it out. At your strategic planning session, make sure you strike the right balance with your research.
  • Waste time—You’ve heard the old adage, “don’t chase rabbits.” That saying certainly applies to planning. When 10 or more people gather to discuss strategy and long-range issues, inevitably you can derail off topic. One tip to use is give everyone a “GEPO” card. It stands for “Good Enough Push On.” Anytime someone displays their “GEPO” card then you move beyond the current discussion topic. Another way to avoid wasting time is do some pre-session work ahead of time through an on-line questionnaire from participants. At your next strategic planning session keep everyone focused on the task at hand.
  • Avoid hard topics—Some people tend to avoid conflict or difficult decisions. They want everyone happy and don’t want to rock the boat. You should banish those people (or at least their avoidance issues) during planning. One question you can ask ahead of time is “what is the elephant in the room issue that we must discuss during this year’s session?” Strategic planning is the perfect time to examine underperformance issues, brand gaps, lack of growth and other conflicts within the organization. No credit union or bank is perfect. So talk about what’s not. At your next planning session discuss the issue on everyone’s mind but no one’s lips.

Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great.” You won’t have a high performing credit union or bank by just having a “good” planning session. It has to be great. Following the above do’s and don’ts will move your organization to the greatness you desire.

How to Use Word of Mouth Marketing To Drive Your Growth

How to Use Word of Mouth Marketing To Drive Your Growth

Every bank or credit union wants to grow their brand. In fact, brand growth is probably a major strategic initiative at almost every financial institution. But what is the best way to grow that brand? Is it a media awareness campaign, public relations efforts, or community events? No. The best way to add new consumers, increase checking accounts and grow loans and deposits is through word of mouth marketing.

While seasoned marketers know the importance of word of mouth marketing, how do you actually do it? One place to start is by reading Fizz, a new book by Ted Wright. The book’s subtitle summarizes the theme pretty well: “harness the power of word of mouth marketing to drive brand growth.” Wright has years of experience leading Fizz, a word of mouth marketing agency. So he shares tons of power-packed insights learned over many successes (and failures).

Below are some of the key points Wright emphasizes in Fizz, along with how banks and credit unions can apply them.

(1) Ask what matters

“Nobody cares about any of the following: your anniversary, the fact that your company is family owned….too many companies want to talk about stuff that matters greatly within their four walls but isn’t likely to inspire a single conversation outside of them,” Wright notes. In other words, just because it matters to you doesn’t mean it matters to them.

  • Application: Wright encourages companies to ask what is something about your brand that inspires a conversation. So the next time you are talking about how to grow your bank or credit union’s brand ask “what do we do or offer that would compel people to talk about us?” Get serious. Do some soul searching. Remember, no one talks about a boring business.

(2) Use a talkable story

Once you determine what matters to your target consumers, you need to make sure your storing is compelling. Wright calls this a “talkable story.” He elaborates by saying, “For a story to be talkable, it has to be three things: relevant, interesting, and authentic. Fail on any one of these points, and your story probably won’t be shared.”

  • Application: Make sure your bank or credit union’s products are relevant to consumers, that your employees are interesting and that your story is real. Stop pushing ad slogans and words that are cliché. Ask yourself, if you didn’t work at your financial institution, would you talk about it? If the answer is no, then change your story.

(3) Encourage face-to-face over social

While social media marketing is certainly a hot topic and buzzword today, Wright argues that face-to-face conversations trump the digital world. He notes that “only 7% of word of mouth is online.” He emphasizes that offline conversations tend to be more positive and memorable.

  • Application: Don’t put all your eggs into the digital basket. I’ll be honest: this part of the book surprised and challenged me. My guess is James Robert Lay and CU Grow would argue you should leverage a digital strategy WITH word of mouth marketing and story telling. So when it comes to talking, just make sure you are talking directly with your target audiences. No talking means no word of mouth.

Those are a few of the key insights from the book. To learn the rest of Wright’s word of mouth principles, you’ll want to read Fizz, which I highly encourage you to do. The best aspect about the book is that it combines two key principles to grow your credit union or bank: word of mouth marketing and brand building.

If you want to get people talking about your credit union or bank’s brand, then read Fizz.

Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Branding

Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Branding

In life there are things we should do and things we shouldn’t do. We should DO chores to take care of our house, we should teach our kids right from wrong and we should exercise and eat healthy. We should also make sure we DON’T eat junk food at every meal, we don’t violate traffic laws and we don’t watch too much mindless TV.

It’s the same way with branding. There are several things you should DO and there are many things you should make sure you DON’T do.

So what are the seven Do’s and Don’ts of branding? Below are four Do’s and three Don’ts of branding.

Be sure you DO the following:

  • Make a plan—While the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” is a cliché, it certainly applies to your brand. The most successful financial institutions today have brand plans, a strategic document that details your brand vision/mission, your target audiences, your messages, your staff standards, etc. For more information about how a brand plan can help your credit union or bank grow, click here.
  • Target an audience—The most successful brands today focus on a niche rather than trying to reach the masses. You cannot be all things to all people. So stop trying. In a recent strategic planning session with one of our clients I asked, “Who are you trying to reach?” They said, “Yes!” It turns out they were trying to be all things to all people in their state (a terrible strategy). We had to start their session with a serious discussion about targeting.
  • Train your employees—While your executives lead the brand, it’s your employees who live the brand. No matter how solid your vision is or how tight your audiences are, if your employees don’t execute that brand on a daily basis in their day-to-day jobs none of it matters. For example, we were conducting a marketing audit for a client earlier this year. Their marketing materials were excellent and their external brand messaging was strong. But when we did the mystery shop portion of our audit, there was a significant brand gap with their staff. They were saying one thing with their brand and their staff was living something else. Needless to say, they are now spending time with their staff on brand training.
  • Put brand & culture first—Financial institutions have tons of strategic priorities: grow loans, operate efficiently, serve the community, reduce expenses, etc. However, there is no strategic priority more than your brand or your culture. Some of the most successful companies today—organizations like Zappos, Apple and Starbucks—all put their brand and culture at the center of their strategy. So when you are making strategic decisions, ask “how does this affect our brand?”

Make sure you DON’T do the following:

  • Brand from a tower—In other words, don’t develop your brand from on high, come out from behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz and issue your branding decrees. Involve everyone in the branding process, including your managers, your employees and your consumers. Branding is not about you: it’s about them.
  • Use clichés—What makes your credit union or bank different? Service? People? Community? NOT! Stop using overused words in your branding. Have you ever driven down the highway and seen a billboard that says, “Come our bank—we hate people.” No. Everyone loves service, people and the community. Answer that question (what makes us different) without the words service, people and community.
  • Ignore brand gaps—More than likely, there are brand gaps in your organization. The brand gap is the tension between the operational nature of banking and the creative/strategic skills of branding. There can be gaps between your brand and your people, between your brand and your strategy and between your brand and your operations. Examine every key area of your credit union or bank and look at it through the lens of your brand.

Branding serves as a compass for your credit union or bank. It guides you on the right path. Ensure your brand compass is working perfectly by following these do’s and don’ts.


Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing

Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing

In a post earlier this year, I talked about “The Three Fs of Strategic Planning.” In that piece, I offered three ideas you should keep an eye on when doing strategic planning.

It’s the same way with marketing. There are several things you should DO and there are many things you should make sure you DON’T do.

So what are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of marketing? Below are four Do’s and three Don’ts of marketing.

Be sure you DO the following:

  • Cut the copy—It doesn’t matter what piece you are producing, just say it in fewer words. The attention spans of consumers today are less than goldfish. One trend identified recently is the concept of glanceable content. People are consumer more information than ever before, just in smaller bites. In other words, they are “glancing” at it. You can learn more about cutting the copy in this post. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, reduce how much you are saying.
  • Invest in video—Marketing is no longer about brochures, direct mail pieces and newsletters. It is now about tools such as Vine and YouTube. The number one search engine for people under the age of 30 is not Google: it’s YouTube. Make sure your website has short testimonial clips, educational videos and interactive features. People are not reading; they are watching. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, use more video.
  • Measure and report your results—“What’s the ROI of our marketing?” Do you ever get that question or something similar? If you do, you better be able to answer it. You should calculate the return every one of your promotions brings (even if it didn’t quite have the results you were seeking). When those budget battles erupt (and they do), the more data you can provide the better you’ll be. You can click here for a few free ROI worksheets to help get you started. To increase your marketing’s effectives, demonstrate how marketing is positively impacting the bottom line.
  • Get an outsider’s view of marketing—We are often too close to our own marketing to see ways to improve it. Sometimes we even have a few blind spots about our campaigns or pieces. As Jay Curtis, CEO of Frist Credit Union said recently, “The marketing audit gave us great feedback on where we need to focus our energies to grow and better serve our members. Having a fresh set of eyes on all your materials is a great way to better your brand.” You can click here to learn more about how a marketing audit can improve your financial institution. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, get a second set of eyes on it.

Make sure you DON’T do the following:

  • Listen too much to non-marketers—While getting others involved is marketing is important, getting them OVER involved can lead to unnecessary headaches. Everyone thinks they are a marketer, but the reality is they are not the paid professionals. You are. Remember, your board is not your target audiences so if they are complaining they never see your ads, then that is probably a good thing. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, use discretion when listening to others’ ideas.
  • Cut the marketing budget—This should go without saying, right? I’m often asked “how much should we spend on marketing?” My answer is always three words: “More, much more!” All kidding aside, if you cut the marketing to save expenses in the short run, you are only reducing your long-term growth objectives. If you are not hitting income goals, NOT investing in marketing so consumers can learn about your products or services probably isn’t going to have the ultimate desired effect you want on your bottom line. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, spend more (wisely—not just because some blogger said so).
  • Promote the flavor of the month—The days of a traditional marketing calendar are long gone. Rather than pushing deposits in Q1, home improvement loans in Q2, auto loans in Q3 and holiday promotions in Q4 it’s much more effective to promote your brand 24/7. If your employees feel they are “pushing” products on consumers rather than matching needs your marketing is doomed. To increase your marketing’s effectiveness, it’s best to emphasize brand over product.

You won’t grow your credit union or bank without strong marketing. It can’t be done. Make sure you are on a growth path by following these do’s and don’ts.

Don’t Forget Power of Email Marketing

Don’t Forget Power of Email Marketing

Periscope. Snapchat. Instagram. Vine. These are all the latest tools in an ongoing marketing onslaught to reach consumers today. And while these new mediums (fads?) are important, financial marketers cannot forget one the most important avenues when reaching their target audiences: email.

While email has been around for decades, it has not yet gone the path of the dinosaur towards extinction. In fact, recent data suggests that email marketing is more important and effective than ever.

According to a recent study from BlueHornet, almost three-quarters of respondents did not have a separate e-mail address for marketing and advertising e-mails. In other words, those email addresses they are giving you actually work as a communication device.

Consider these other findings:

  • Nearly 98% of respondents were influenced by a marketing email to make a purchase
  • Consumers now expect marketing emails to be personalized on past purchases (75%) and interests (71%)
  • 34% continuously monitor their email account during the day

“We found that consumers are very digitally connected, checking their emails throughout the day and across devices,” said Mike Biwer, vice president and general manager for BlueHornet. “The vast majority expect marketers to know and understand them, and personalize messages accordingly. And they fully acknowledge the strong influence that email marketing has on their purchasing decisions.”

From a practical standpoint, what does this mean for banks and credit unions? Here are some key applications:

  • Make email marketing a central component to your marketing strategy (not an afterthought)
  • Make your emails mobile friendly (most people today are reading emails on tablets and phones)
  • Make your headline compelling (how many times do you hit “delete” just based on the email message header?)
  • Personalize those email messages (use their name, customize your offerings, avoid sending everyone the same message, etc.)
  • Cut the copy (shorten those messages as much as possible; get to the point!)
  • Avoid too many fancy graphics (visual images are important but if they are large they take too long to load)

Experts have been predicting for years now that branches are dead, yet there are still plenty of brick and mortar around. Just like branches aren’t dead (they are changing), email marketing is far from dead. Is email marketing changing? Absolutely. And adhering to those six tips above will improve your digital email efforts.

Everyone likes new bright and shiny toys (as in Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram and Vine). But when it comes to effectively marketing your messages, don’t forget the power of a trusty old tool: email.

How to Use Non Obvious Trends In Strategic Planning

How to Use Non Obvious Trends In Strategic Planning

When conducting your strategic planning session, you spend time examining trends. What are big picture issues that are going to affect financial institutions in the coming years? What new patterns are emerging with consumers? Tools used for understanding these trends include CUNA’s Environmental Scan, Forrester Research reports, and reams of articles from The Financial Brand. We even provide our planning clients with an “M-Scan” report that provides details about what growing credit unions and banks are doing to succeed.

But rather than just the studying the obvious movements in our industry (mobile banking, the digital revolution, etc.) what if you looked for non-obvious trends?

That is exactly what Rohit Bhargava does with his latest book, Non-Obvious. The subtitle—How To Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future—summarizes what he tries to accomplish in a thought provoking read. The book is divided into three parts: how to curate trends, 15 non-obvious trends he currently analyzes, and how to turn trends into actions. He defines a non-obvious trend as “an idea that describes the accelerating present in a new, unique way.”

Below are a few on the non-obvious trends Bhargava identified and how banks and credit unions can apply them.

(1) Glanceable Content

“Our shrinking attention spans and the explosion of all forms of content online lead curators to optimize content for rapid consumption,” is how Bhargava describes this trend. He notes that our attention spans are down to 8 seconds, which is less than a goldfish. You have to capture consumers’ attention in a fleeting moment.

  • Application: Cut the copy. It’s that simple. Stop trying to over communicate multiple messages in a single piece. You must make your newsletter articles, e-mail messages, billboards, websites, etc. brief. Many successful financial institutions are conducting marketing audits to get an outside opinion on how they can improve their marketing with shorter pieces.

(2) Reverse Retail

Bhargava says reverse retail is “brands increasingly invest in high-touch in-store experiences as a way to build brand affinity and educate customers, while seamlessly integrating with online channels to complete actual purchases and fulfill orders.” He noted how consumers are now “showrooming,” where they will visit a physical location to check out a product and then actually purchase that product online.

  • Application: Branches are not dead. They are changing. Multiple surveys from various sources indicate that between 60-80% of new banking relationships are established through the branch network. Of course, once those relationships are made, then consumers are migrating to a variety of banking delivery channels. You must consider not your branching strategy, but rather your omni-channel network: combining the physical, automated and virtual channels into one experience.

(3) Small Data

Bhargava challenges the concept of “big data” by saying “as consumers increasingly collect their own data from online activities and the Internet of Things, brand-owned big data becomes less valuable than immediately actionable small data collected and owned by consumers themselves.” He notes that brands must create value and link big data with small data.

  • Application: Use the data you have to personalize messages and offerings. Stop sending mass communication in the form of “e-mail” and send what Seth Godin calls “me-mail.” You know tons about your customers/members: their credit score, how much money they make, where they shop, etc. That’s valuable data retailers would kill to have. But it’s useless data if you don’t mine it to help consumers make their financial lives better.

Those are a few of the trends from the book. To learn the rest of Bhargava’s 15 non-obvious trends you’ll want to read Non-Obvious, which I highly encourage you to do. I found the non-obvious trends section most helpful. His insights were spot-on and will certainly help you think more strategically.

If you want to improve your insight for your next strategic planning session, then read Non-Obvious.

Paying Incentives for Brand Behavior

Paying Incentives for Brand Behavior

I’ll give you all a few moments to get over the choking sensation you probably got from reading the title.

Feel better now? Good. Because it’s time to talk about something serious.

Brand has risen to a place of paramount importance in bank and credit union culture. And for all the right reasons. After all, your brand is who you are and what your promise to consumers. If you are not living your brand, your bank or credit union is pretty much doomed to failure.

So, all this effort goes into brand, brand, brand. But for those credit unions and banks that still offer a bonus to employees, how are you doing this? For the most part, via the extremely old-fashioned way of sales.

Note: paying for sales is still an important part of the incentive mix. However, paying employees to live the brand is the next step in this incentive evolution.

For example, you get $5 for every checking account you sell per month. Or $25 for every GAP coverage package you add to an auto loan.

These types of incentives worked well the past. But they also worked well before brand became so important. So, instead of paying employees based purely on behavior (which is pretty much like tossing a dog a small bone every time he rolls over or fetches) wouldn’t it make more sense to pay on what matters most now – living the brand?

How can you make this work? It all comes back to two things – your own unique brand and just how well your management team polices it.

For example, if it is part of your brand culture for every employee to greet every member with a smile every time they come in — and the appropriate managers see this behavior – you can set up an incentive plan based on that. Or, if an element of your brand is to ask probing questions of a consumer to find out more about their lifestyle so you may, in turn, suggest appropriate financial products and services, you can pay bonuses on that. You could also pay incentives based on mystery shops scores, positive comments about employees on social media and other metrics.

The old twelve-month marketing calendar is pretty much dead. Successful banks and credit unions now operate on a 24/7 cycle of exceeding consumer expectations by living a unique and memorable brand. This unique and memorable brand is wholly contingent upon staff that live, breathe and eat it – every day. Finding ways now to incent staff that actually live up to this brand promise, as opposed to paying them for selling individual add-ons, means better service to your brand, your consumers and your employees.

Employees: Match the Brand or Hit the Road?

Employees: Match the Brand or Hit the Road?

Online shoe and clothing retailer is well-known for its unique and successful corporate culture. It’s also doing a great job of living up to its own brand promise which involves an entire company built around the overall customer experience.

Understandably, it takes a special kind of employee to make a go of it at Zappos. And as important as corporate culture is to Zappos, they invest a great deal making sure the kind of people they employ align personally with the brand they profess.

To this end, Zappos pays employees the equivalent of three month’s severance if they feel the company, its culture and management style are not for them. Why is this, and, more importantly, why would Zappos actually pay for employees to leave them?

The answer comes back to brand. Marketers spend tons of time, energy and money developing and implementing brands. But the brand is only as good as the employees that deliver it in front of consumers every day. If you have a terrific brand but employees that don’t get it or just don’t care, what you have is a brand gap. And a brand gap is a substantial detriment to your overall brand efforts.

For example, we have worked with several clients on brand audits who were convinced upon our arrival that their employees were all on board with the brand. However, mystery shops during the audit process sometimes prove otherwise. Sometimes these mystery shop show that employees are uneducated, untrained or even disinterested in the brand, let alone living in front of people.

Now think about your own bank or credit union. How much time and effort do you spend onboarding new employees, not only to educate them on your unique brand but to ensure that they are actually a good fit for your culture? Probably not nearly enough time.

Obviously, not every bank or credit union can afford to pay employees thousands of dollars to not work there. But what you can do is keep a keen eye on new staff during their onboarding process. If it becomes obvious they are not a good fit for your culture (or, conversely, that your culture is not a good fit for them) it is best to cut ties early. If your employees, from the C-suite to the front line, can’t live up to your brand promise, it’s best that you both part ways early to save future headache and expense.

Your staff brand personality must match your corporate brand personality. This is something successful retailers like Zappos understand and work to their advantage. Your bank or credit union should follow this example.