It starts with good branding.
Developing a clear voice for your credit union online and through social media marketing is essential to communications and community success.
It’s not enough for your credit union to have a presence online; your credit union must also have a distinct and consistent voice. With the right voice for your credit union, marketing and communications appear seamless, natural, and always hit the right note. This sounds like a tall order – and it does take some work. But developing and consistently using a brand voice is also an extension of your credit union’s existing identity.
Of course, your community may recognize your credit union for its great rates and great service. But there’s more to it than those few details, right? Perhaps your credit union has a specialty for helping small businesses, can work wonders for new families getting a fresh start, or encourages youth education. Remember, at their cores, all credit unions operate to help members meet financial goals. So, what makes your credit union unique?
How can your credit union be memorable and stand out from other CUs and financial institutions? Effective branding – from logos, tag lines, and colors, to websites and social media pages – bring it all together. In visuals and text messages, your brand is hard at work, carrying your credit union’s voice through your community and across many channels.
Step One: Describe Your CU
Branding is important. It is also hard, in part because it feels like it should be simple. Buckle up! The process of branding (and, yes, even rebranding if the time calls for it) takes a lot of homework. The good news is that, once you’ve done some introspection and then laid solid groundwork, you have an incredible resource. Ultimately, you have a guide for every communication you do – online, in print, and in person.
For your credit union, developing a voice for your digital communications starts with looking to your brand. Your credit union’s voice could get lost or weaken in the shuffle of online life. Truly understanding your brand will be a guiding light. Once you know who you are for members, you know how to best interact with your existing audience. Also, you know how to seek out new clients and followers. While going in-depth on your brand will cover a wide range of your business, it first requires you to zero in.
Think about how you would introduce yourself at a party. This simple exercise can help you get started on understanding your brand and voice. What details would you naturally share? Name, job, where you live, relationship status, favorite hobby. True, it’s an incomplete picture. But each detail offers more clarity for an overall snapshot of your life. And each detail could lead to a bigger conversation and more details.
Understanding your brand is a huge task, so simplifying things to start can help the task feel more achievable. Start small and continue to zoom out to understand your credit union brand.
Go Deeper to Understand What’s Unique
With the quick introduction out of the way, it is time to delve deeper. What story do you want your credit union to tell through its marketing and communications? Are there certain goals or objectives that could inform brand decisions?
Zooming out to understand your CU and your communications goals will help you establish a cohesive experience for members. Additionally, in order to effectively capture your credit union’s brand and plan for its voice, you must be inclusive. Going big picture means involving others, because your members communicate with many in your organization. Checking in with loan officers, IT specialists, and CU leaders uncovers the full scope of your brand and the experience of being part of your credit union. Set and understand your goals together to build the right brand strategy around that.
Here are a few questions to help your credit union continue its branding conversation:
- How would you describe your credit union’s brand currently? How does this inform its current or hoped-for voice?
- Is your credit union consistent throughout its messaging and across platforms?
- What impact or result would you like your CU messaging to have on audiences? Do audiences feel connected to your credit union communications?
As your credit union examines its brand strategy, such questions will make you and your colleagues think about the role of CU communications. But the above questions are not exhaustive! What other questions would you include for your credit union?
Nail Your Credit Union Voice Online
If the work involved in figuring out your credit union’s brand is overwhelming, there is some good news now about brand voice. Consider this: Every time you write something for your CU – whether it’s for a print newsletter or radio ad – you are using your brand voice. Yet you may not even be thinking about it! Simply by projecting your message on a CU platform, you are sharing your brand’s voice.
But the next question is: Is it the voice you want to be sharing?
So, part two of this is about getting on the same page. Establishing your credit union’s voice online matters because it helps carry out your digital communications effectively.
One idea is to think of your brand as a series of adjectives.
Is your CU creative, traditional, supportive, or educational? Pick out adjectives that speak to your brand overall, then think about if they might change from channel to channel. It’s okay (in fact, it’s a good idea) if there’s a slight difference between your TikTok presence and your Facebook presence. Perhaps your CU adjectives for TikTok are “educational, helpful, and playful.” This digital channel for your CU informs a younger generation about developing healthy savings habits. Meanwhile, for Facebook, your CU adjectives become “helpful, community-minded, and approachable.” There, your CU shares announcements about new loan rates for established members.
Even if you have already established your credit union voice online, you should do an occasional audit. Track and save examples. What was successful? What missed the mark? Give your digital credit union communications a grade to ensure you stay on track.
This Is Why Strong Branding Matters
Once you know the full scope of your credit union identity and voice, your brand will be stronger overall. And, the knowledge will inform much of what you do. That’s incredibly important in this competitive and distracting world. Having a clear and easily recognizable brand helps grab attention and quickly convey messages.
As you might know, brand standards are invaluable in keeping your credit union brand consistent. As a guide, brand standards track key information to help create and protect your brand identity. Use the same colors, graphic elements, fonts, photos, and keywords throughout your marketing materials. This will hold your overall credit union brand together.
Consistent branding ensures your credit union is recognized in any room it enters. And consistency is key.
“Be consistent. I repeat, be consistent,” says Epic Marketing CEO Nancy Dibert. “Being consistent in your messaging, positioning, values, and identity will help you establish and develop trust and loyalty. Create a brand guide or style guide that outlines how your brand should be portrayed. Pay attention to the details. Your emails to members, your website, and other forms of communication should all reflect your brand. Consistency also reflects stability. Consumers want to see stability, especially when it comes to choosing a financial institution.”