Danielle Frawley

Hail to the chief retail officer

'I’m helping those I’ve known my whole life. That really keeps my heart here.'

October 4, 2016

Awake every day at 4 a.m. so she can work out and still make it to her desk well before the branch opens, Danielle Frawley is not one to waste time.

The chief retail officer at $206 million asset Fort Community Credit Union in Fort Atkinson, Wis., keeps her schedule full.

Currently, Frawley is winding up a massive rebranding effort that moved the credit union away from traditional financial institution formality and toward a tone of friendly, youthful familiarity.

New messaging replaces industry jargon with casual language.

Employees talk about cashing checks with phones instead of promoting remote deposit capture. And renovations are underway to manifest the brand physically in branches—think business lounge, not teller line.

Frawley acknowledges that the need to appeal to millennial members in their peak borrowing years was a prime motivator. But the branding effort also was an attempt to embrace and convey the credit union’s hometown sensibility.

“A lot of our leaders were not suit-wearers, and our brand didn’t match who we were,” Frawley said. “It wasn’t sounding like us, and it didn’t feel like us.”

For Frawley, stressing community impact was critical.

She is proud the credit union sponsors local events and offers a unique debit card rewards program that awards points redeemable at the local pizza place, the spa next door, and other area businesses.

Yet she believes credit unions support local economies in a more fundamental way.

“Everyone thinks ‘buy local’ is great. Everyone thinks ‘farm-to-table’ is great,” Frawley says. “You’re doing the same thing when you bank with your credit union.”

For Frawley, that ability to help longtime friends and neighbors reach their dreams—building new houses, sending children to college, or simply improving their finances—is what motivates her to rise before dawn and head to work every day.

“I did work at a big bank for a few months, and I realized I couldn’t make the same kind of impact that I could with our local credit union,” Frawley says. “I’m helping those I’ve known my whole life. That really keeps my heart here.”