LISA ASADOURIAN ISN’T AFRAID to use the word “bank” to promote her credit union.
As vice president of marketing for Nutmeg State Federal Credit Union in Rocky Hill, Conn., she tried for years to define credit unions in her marketing, but people didn’t pay attention. So she launched Nutmeg’s “Banking Awesome” campaign.
“We do the same things banks do, so why can’t we use the word?” Asadourian asks rhetorically.
“Credit unions are trying to gain ground and be taken as serious competitors in the financial marketplace, but so much of what we do is old-school,” she continues. “We have to be mindful of our roots, but we also have to step outside the box to attract attention.”
Asadourian believed Nutmeg’s marketing style needed an overhaul. But concerned about her objectivity, she engaged an agency.
“I wanted to build a little silly, quirky education into our marketing,” she says. “It was nice that the agency staff didn’t know much about credit unions, so they could approach it with fresh eyes. A lot of bank advertising is the same. And marketing is what differentiates you, and gives your business its personality.”
Asadourian painted her vision for the credit union’s personality for the agency, and “they got it from the beginning,” she says. Of the three concepts the agency presented, Nutmeg opted to push the envelope but stop short of tearing it open.
“We have to remember that we’re a financial institution, and we’re handling people’s money,” she notes.
And it’s handling younger people’s money, as it turns out. The marketing campaign has hit home with twenty somethings, dropping Nutmeg’s average new-member age considerably.
“Our messaging is definitely reaching a younger demographic,” Asadourian says. “We wanted that, and to stop being a stuffy old financial institution. It’s OK to be a little silly, fun, and edgy.”
Someone eventually had to challenge the traditional methods of credit union marketing, Asadourian contests, and “we wanted to be the leaders rather than the followers. And thankfully my CEO feels the exact same way. Both he and our board are very progressive.”
The credit union received a few phone calls from people who didn’t like the new branding, but Asadourian doesn’t mind. “Any press is good press,” she says. “We have to be exceptional and we are.”