Breakout sharpens focus on ‘Open Your Eyes’ initiative
From left: Douglas Kiker, CUNA; David Martin, BrandCap; Teresa Freeborn, Xceed Financial CU; Graeme Trayner, Glover Park Group; and Ed Bolton, BrandCap.

Breakout sharpens focus on ‘Open Your Eyes’ initiative

GAC attendees line up to experience 'Your fantastic future, faster.'

February 27, 2018

Stark black and white portraits of CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) attendees cupping their hands around their eyes became a trend Tuesday, as a long line of people formed outside of a photo booth to add their faces to a new credit union awareness initiative.

The pictures were part of the “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union,” a creative prototype spun out of CUNA’s Credit Union Awareness Initiative, unveiled to the public for the first time in the GAC’s General Session Tuesday morning.

In an afternoon breakout session, attendees dived deeper into the campaign and learned more about the messaging guide and research underpinning it. To download the messaging guide, they were encouraged to visit (password: “openyoureyes”).

The awareness team outlined the next steps of the creative campaign and how credit unions could get involved. The awareness initiative—an effort led by CUNA and an advisory group comprising credit union leaders from across the country with assistance from professional consultants—will start small, working with strategic partners who will volunteer time and money to roll out the Open Your Eyes creative campaign regionally.  

CUNA Chief Strategic Communications Officer Douglas Kiker welcomed any credit unions interested in getting involved with the initiative to contact him at or, and encouraged credit unions to use their research-backed messaging guide—which will help them bring their existing marketing efforts in line with the two years of consumer research conducted by the awareness team.

The awareness group worked with the outside firm BrandCap to conduct extensive qualitative and quantitative research to develop consumer insights.

Based on those insights, the group worked with a creative firm to develop a category brand platform that is the core message and positioning for the credit union category.  The central idea of the brand platform is “Your fantastic future, faster.”  

Open Your Eyes is the first creative campaign built on the new credit union brand platform.

“This isn’t an effort to supplant your credit union’s marketing efforts,” Kiker said. “Our industry needs those campaigns to continue. What this does is augment and complement your efforts by increasing consumer consideration for the entire category of credit unions.”

Teresa Freeborn, president/CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union, who is a member of the advisory group, said at her own credit union she would use the messaging guide to refine Xceed’s marketing efforts to bring it in line with the awareness group’s consumer research, while relying at the awareness initiative’s broader campaign to drive consideration of credit unions overall.

Most people, the awareness group’s research found, don’t believe they can join a credit union, and they think credit unions are too small—too “mom and pop” to fit their modern, faster-paced lifestyle.

The Open Your Eyes campaign addresses these misconceptions head-on—both in tone and its messaging.

Shifting consumer perceptions so more people view credit unions as modern financial institutions that they can join and that will help them achieve their greatest aspirations offers credit unions a huge opportunity.

Because the fact is, Kiker said, that while credit union memberships are growing, credit unions’ overall market share has stalled, and banks are vastly outspending them in marketing.

“We are working with interested groups of credit unions and leagues to explore a series of individual market tests to learn how what we’ve built works in the retail marketplace,” Kiker said. “We’ll learn from this upcoming work, fine tune what we’ve built and build a broader coalition to achieve a scale of effort that supports the whole credit union movement and is sustainable long term.”

►Read more conference coverage from CUNA News, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNANews, @cumagazine, @CUNA, and by using the #CUNAGAC hashtag. You can also follow the conference on Facebook and Instagram. For a complete schedule and information on keynote speakers and breakout sessions, visit the CUNA GAC event page.