Call it what you want. “A national campaign.” “A state league campaign.” “A credit union brand campaign.” “A credit union awareness campaign.” It doesn’t matter. Here are four things to consider before pursuing one.
1.) What’s in it for individual credit unions
Credit unions spend a lot of their marketing capital educating people about the basic differences between them and other financial institutions:
- Credit unions are not-for-profit.
- They are owned by their members.
- They have better rates and fewer fees than banks.
- They are run democratically (one member, one voice).
- They are locally-focused.
- They are run by all-volunteer boards of directors.
A national campaign should focus on these differences of credit unions as a whole. If a national campaign stressed some of the common points-of-distinction credit unions share, then credit unions would free-up those portions of their marketing capital spent educating people.
2.) “Awareness” vs. “action”
Many presume a national campaign would focus on TV advertising. But TV ads don’t trigger a lot of “action” from viewers, they are best for building awareness. The only exception are direct-response ads like those for the AbLounge and Super Shammy.
Those in the industry expecting to see huge and immediate upticks in membership numbers could be disappointed. Marketing objectives such as “building awareness” and “reshaping perceptions” take time. This means everyone would need to understand and agree on clearly-defined goals before pursuing a national campaign.
Inasmuch, would the cost be justifiable to the campaign’s contributors?
3.) Avoiding taxation through communication
Certainly, there are political reasons to pursue a national credit union campaign. Ads could help relieve political pressure surrounding taxation if they attacked the increasingly common perception that “CUs are just like banks.”
4.) “Homogenous unity” vs. “unique independence”
A national campaign can help build a broader category for “the credit union brand,” but it is not a crutch. Each individual credit union still has a responsibility to build its own brand and communicate why it is different than the countless other banks and credit unions people can choose from. There may be a place for a national campaign, but not at the expense of individual credit unions having their own, distinct brands.
Bottom Line: Branding experts agree on one thing: a national campaign is not a CU branding panacea. And some seem to worry that such a campaign could be either fruitless or a complete waste.