Panama City, Florida is more than just a spring break destination where college kids kick back and let loose. It’s an active beach community that also happens to be the home of Innovations FCU, which is pretty hip and youthful in its own right.
It wasn’t always that way.
When Innovations partnered with brand design firm Raoust+Partners back in 2007, the average age of an Innovations member was 49 years old and loans were fairly stagnant. Innovations was eager to attract a Gen-Y audience, increase loan volumes, and lower their average member age. The team at Raoust+Partners got to work.
As part of the branding process, Innovations peeled back the layers of their organization to reveal who they really were, not just who they thought they were. In the end, the decided they were ready to embrace a more youthful, more enthusiastic brand.
Raoust+Partners developed and defined a new image for them that included a brighter color palette, fresh tone, more youthful language, and a tagline that invited people to “Spark Change.” Raoust+Partners also imbued the brand look throughout Innovation’s branches.
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Innovations launched a promotion to reduce people’s existing auto loan rates by at least 2%, with a floor of 2.49%), and that loan applications would be processed ASAP. Raoust developed that was big, bold and compelling, channeling it through digital boards, web banners, email, a video spot, audio spot and landing page.
Elements of the “2% Refi Rate Drop” campaign — from music and voice to color and tone — was designed to appeal to two audiences: a Gen-Y market, and those who might not have the best credit scores. Strategically, Innovations viewed this as a “gateway loan” used to attract new members who previously had loans at competing financial institutions.
Spearheading the rebranding and marketing effort was Olivier Raoust, President and Chief Creative Director at Raoust+Partners.
“Specific product campaigns have been quite successful,” he says.
How successful? Membership numbers are up now at 17,750 from 8,850 in 2005 — a 200% increase. Loans are up by $1.9 million over the last couple of months alone, and the average member age is down from 49 to 42 years old, and continues to trend down the credit union says.
Raoust, who has specialized in credit union marketing for more than 20 years, says he is unabashedly passionate about the credit union movement.
“Credit union marketers need to offer solutions — not products — that will enable people to make the right financial decisions,” Raoust says. “This goes directly to the brand position that a credit union should have — relevant to members, dedicated to the community, and most importantly authentic.”
“Let people clearly understand what you as an institution stand for,” says Raoust. “And communicate that repeatedly.”
“If you can align your core beliefs to that of your community, then you’re really on to something,” Raoust continues. “If your mission is to be really supportive of the community, then let that be the framework by which you promote your products and services — let that become the fabric of your brand position.”
“Your marketing partner should be willing to explore your story from all sides so they can bring to the surface what is going to be relevant and compelling, and not simply take the easy path and rely on promotional gimmicks in hopes that you will cast a net big enough to attract people,” Raoust concludes.