“Love My Credit Union.” “Helping People Afford Life.” “Cooperative Image Campaign.” “Own it.” “Feel the Difference.” “iBelong.”
All are exceptional league marketing and public affairs campaigns that have made strong inroads with consumers. I could continue—and if my wonderful editor allowed it, I would.
But the point is, leagues and credit unions are well-acquainted with their markets. They’ve already crafted their brands. And their marketing and public affairs campaigns are recognizable to consumers.
So, with countless personalized awareness efforts already in place, why on earth would we try to reshape them?
We wouldn’t, and we aren’t.
Instead, the Credit Union Awareness Initiative we’re preparing to debut next year—previewed during the America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) in June—aims only to support and complement these efforts in a sustainable and ongoing way. Check out cuna.org/awareness to get involved.
Over the coming months, with league, credit union, and other stakeholder participation, we’ll develop resources credit unions can leverage in their existing awareness efforts to align credit union messaging nationwide.
As a result, we’ll cultivate a broader understanding of credit unions and create a powerful choir of credit union voices.
The CUNA Creating Awareness Advisory Group, which boasts a wide spectrum of experts in credit union marketing, is guiding our work. They’ve combed through decades of research and found that when credit unions clearly communicate how they differ from banks, market share, share of wallet, and advocacy work all flourish.
It’s this simple: Talking about the credit union difference makes a difference.
No matter the individual brand and no matter the market, decades of research have shown these four messages work:
Using this messaging, through league efforts and the efforts of credit unions and their 350,000 employees and volunteers across the country, we can ensure consumers understand what credit unions are, encourage greater participation in them, and get more consumers to join our movement.
It’s not CUNA that will drive the success of this initiative—it’s each of you. As Teresa Freeborn, president/CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union in El Segundo, Calif., and chair of the awareness advisory group, told ACUC attendees: A substantial awareness gap about credit unions unquestionably exists, and it’s up to all of us to address it.
Remember, that awareness gap doesn’t apply solely to the general public. Many credit union members—even employees—cannot articulate the difference between a credit union and a bank.
That’s why the first phase of this initiative will work to equip the 350,000 credit union employees and volunteers we work with every day with the four key messages.
We all must be the flag-bearers for this effort because if credit union employees don’t understand what makes their organizations different, how can we expect that from our members, consumers, or policymakers?
Let’s be true credit union ambassadors and clearly communicate the credit union difference. It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight.
But by working together to ensure that we all talk about credit unions in a consistent way, as one unified choir, I assure you we’ll scrub away that awareness gap, taking market share from the big banks and moving ever closer to the day that credit unions become every American’s best financial partner.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.