Unlike the large financial institutions that feel impersonal and out of touch, your independent bank or credit union is serving the community…people you know and have opportunities to connect with. While you may not have all the bells and whistles of the larger brand, you do have that independent spirit working on your side. In fact, although perception has improved slightly, only 27% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the banking institution. Independent banks and credit unions can capitalize on the lack of confidence in "big banks" by offering a more personal and intuitive experience for their customers, and branding their organization to reflect these strengths. Each community bank faces different challenges and caters to a specific audience, so each brand is unique. However, there are bank branding strategies that any credit union or independent financial institution can use to maintain a competitive edge. Here are a few simple and affordable ways to you can elevate your brand.
#1: SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE
Successful branding is about so much more than catchy mission statements and colorful logos. It is about having a unified, recognizable message that your organization can stand behind. And when it comes to promoting your independent bank or credit union, if you’re going to brag about how you take care of the community, you had better back it up with more than words. Host a food drive for your local pantry, support youth sports teams, promote community events, etc. Think creatively about how you can expand your outreach both physically and virtually. If you’re branding your bank as a the local financial experts, host ‘Ask the Banker’ live chats on Facebook, provide helpful resources on your website, and tailor your on hold messages with informative content. Simply put, your brand identity should speak to your core identity, and be evident in all that you do.
#2: EMPOWER YOUR TEAM
Your employees are ambassadors of your brand, and should be treated as such. When your customers aren’t banking online, they are dealing directly with your tellers, and that interaction is essential to your customer experience. From thorough training to advancement opportunities, take steps to create a positive environment for your staff. When your bank earns a reputation in the community as a great place to work, it’s much easier to earn a reputation as a great place to do business. Engage your employees and provide them with all the necessary resources they need, and you will be well on your way.
#3: CATER TO YOUNG CUSTOMERS
Keep your brand relevant by promoting services to younger customers within the community. Children that open a savings account today are more likely to continue banking with you when they need a checking account, personal loan, or mortgage in the future. Stay tuned in to what your young customers want. Reports show that millennials want their bank to advise them. Host a monthly money management seminar or provide resources on how they can save for future goals. When your local bank or credit union keeps pace with the needs and preferences of the younger generation, you are better positioned to keep your brand fresh and be an early adapter to changing industry trends.
#4: MAXIMIZE YOUR MARKETING PLATFORMS
87% of consumers find banks use of social media annoying, boring or unhelpful. Why? Because they are often self-promoting and don’t address the real needs and interest of their consumer base. Your brand shouldn’t only speak to who you are as a financial institution, but also to what you can do for the customers you serve. Offer helpful resources on your social medial channels, take advantage of mobile marketing opportunities, and customize your on-hold messages and phone greetings to provide informative and engaging content customers are interested in. In order for your brand to be memorable it has to offer something valuable to the consumer. Figure out what that something is and share that message across your marketing platforms for maximum impact.