CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference
Mark Arnold

Follow the Laws of Branding

Business development staff are CUs’ branding ‘secret weapon.’

March 25, 2013

Smart credit unions don’t push products, they promote their brands, says Mark Arnold, president of the On the Mark Strategies. And business development staff are credit unions’ “secret weapon” in this process.

Mark Arnold
Mark Arnold addressed the three parts of the branding triangle: Leadership, staff, and members.

Arnold addressed the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference Sunday in Anaheim, Calif.

Branding, he says, is the process of determining your competitive advantages and building them into an institutional culture. A successful brand has three key elements:

1. Clarity. Does everyone in the credit union know exactly what it stands for? Nordstrom’s, for example, is known for its service, and Volvo’s brand is synonymous with safety.

“It’s about who you are as employees, members, and business development professionals,” Arnold says.

2. Consistency. Are your branding efforts consistent through all delivery channels?

3. Constancy—always being in front of the communities you serve.

“You can’t go 24 hours without seeing Coke’s logo,” Arnold explains.

Branding isn’t about getting consumers to pick your products and services over your competitors’, he adds, but as “the only solution to their problem. Smart credit unions don’t push product; they push their brand.”

Following these “branding laws,” Arnold says, will keep credit unions on track:

  • If your branding is wrong, everything else is, too. “You can’t blow that,” he says. “You can’t make a marketing promise you can’t deliver.”
  • Branding isn’t about you, it’s about them—members.
  • Remember that advertising grabs peoples’ minds while branding grabs their hearts.

“Grabbing peoples’ hearts gets their commitment,” Arnold says, citing Harley Davidson as a prime example.

Business development staff play an important role in branding because they have extensive contact with both current and prospective members, providing access to valuable business intelligence.

“The business development area is credit unions’ secret weapon in branding,” Arnold says. “You’re the bridge.”