By agreeing on the language credit unions use when talking about themselves, the industry can clarify its identity in the financial services marketplace and, in turn, begin to raise greater awareness among consumers.
That’s according to Teresa Freeborn, president/CEO of Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif., and chair of the Creating Awareness Advisory Group. The CUNA Board established the Advisory Group last year to work on the issue of credit union awareness. Attendees received an update on its progress during a breakout session Tuesday at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.
“When you say the words ‘credit union,’ for the general consumer there’s simply too much confusion, or lack of awareness around the term,” Freeborn said. “If we as an industry can’t settle on a clear definition of who we are, how can we expect consumers to understand?”
Freeborn said the Advisory Group believes it can develop a compelling identity for credit unions by creating a high-level brand platform that the industry can embrace.
To begin its work on that brand platform, the group conducted comprehensive, national consumer research to identify the characteristics common to credit unions that are most appealing to consumers.
“This way we can create a brand platform that not only addresses the greatest deficits in knowledge around credit unions, but also the most important strengths in the eyes of the consumers,” Freeborn said.
Attendees of the breakout session were presented a summary of the research, which unearthed a number of issues the Advisory Group believes credit unions must tackle if they want to move the needle on awareness:
Moving forward, the Advisory Group will continue to develop the brand platform based on the consumer research, and also begin a broad engagement plan to communicate the research findings and the need to align messaging.
“We know leagues and credit unions have invested a lot of time and resources building out their own brands. I know we have at Xceed,” Freeborn said. “You all know your markets much better than the Advisory Group ever would. With a national brand platform feeding into that work, however, we can supplement that marketing work, while also unifying the industry around a central, high-level definition.”