During my first year at CUNA, I was meeting as many credit union people as possible and introducing myself to the movement. One of the messages I heard over and over again is, “Jim, we need a national credit union campaign.”
We have great products and services, they told me, but the broader public doesn’t know what a credit union is or what we stand for.
A national campaign that drives overall consumer consideration—complementing and strengthening individual credit unions’ marketing efforts—should be a top priority for CUNA. I listened.
For the past two years, CUNA’s strategic communications department has worked with professional consultants and a team of credit union leaders from across the country to develop our national Credit Union Awareness Initiative.
We’re now ready to start rolling it out, and I couldn’t be more excited about its potential.
What differentiates this initiative from past efforts is our laser focus on research. We wanted to know which messages would move more people to consider credit unions. In short—we wanted to know what works.
So we ditched all of our assumptions and we invested the time and resources to conduct detailed, painstaking research, hosting hundreds of listening sessions with consumers across the country. Some of our findings were surprising.
As it turns out, we don’t have an awareness problem. For the most part, consumers know what credit unions are. What we have is a misperception problem.
Most people mistakenly believe they can’t join a credit union, or that credit unions are too small and local—too “mom and pop”—to provide modern table stakes, such as nationwide access and mobile banking.
Next, we created a category brand platform, the core message and positioning that differentiates credit unions nationally from other financial institutions. Our extensive research guided us to “Your fantastic future, faster.” The message is a brand promise to focus and underpin our consumer-facing messaging.
What makes “Your fantastic future, faster” work is that it’s playful and down-to-earth. Our research finds it models the tone that resonates with consumers.
And it’s inspirational, a reminder that we need to communicate to potential members that credit unions are here to help them achieve their dreams—and that we do it better than our competition.
With the research and brand platform in place, we developed our first creative campaign, a consumer-tested prototype we’re preparing to roll out regionally. Based on the tagline “Open your eyes to a credit union,” the digital-first campaign rebuts major credit union myths while inviting consumers to consider credit unions afresh.
The initial reaction to the campaign’s videos and materials have been fantastic. Hundreds of attendees at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference waited in line to have their photographs taken cupping their eyes in the campaign’s distinctive black-and-white style.
This initiative will increase overall consumer consideration of credit unions, not replace your credit union’s brand or supplant your marketing efforts. Every credit union is unique, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be united.
The awareness initiative’s greatest strength is also credit unions’ greatest strength: Our ability to work together for the benefit of our members and communities.
Three ways to get involved:
1. Visit awareness.creditunion (password: openyoureyes). Review the creative, read our story, and be wowed by the expertise of the team we’ve assembled.
2. Download the message guide at cuna.org/awareness. This is the piece of the awareness initiative that can supercharge your marketing efforts right now.
It’s a series of recommendations based on our exhaustive research about which credit union messages appeal to consumers. Begin implementing this now, and your credit union will be poised to take full advantage of our category marketing.
3. Provide feedback about the campaign. We’ll test everything we’ve learned by partnering with credit unions nationwide to optimize how we roll out awareness campaigns.
Email your thoughts on the concept to email@example.com.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.