Susan Toalson

Digital-first branding effort supports long-term growth

‘We’re not going to change consumers’ hearts and minds with a one-and-done effort.’

March 28, 2019

Credit union’s market share has hovered around 7% for 30 years, and big banks are outspending credit unions on marketing by a 43-1 margin.

What’s the answer to big banks’ competitive advantage?

One piece lies in the digital-first, category-level branding effort that supports long-term credit union growth: The Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® Initiative.

The initiative is designed to change perceptions that block consumers’ consideration of credit unions for financial services, says Susan Toalson, CUNA’s vice president, creating awareness. It is different than direct response marketing and is meant to strengthen consumer perceptions as they see more content over time. 

“Open Your Eyes is the platform to get after the false perceptions consumers have of credit unions: that they can’t join and that accessing their money might be hard,” she tells attendees at the 2019 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference Friday in Las Vegas. “It will be a way to grow the entire credit union movement through category branding plus individual credit union marketing.”

So far, more than 425 organizations have donated more than $30 million to support the initiative, Toalson says.

Early results have been promising. After several weeks in the market, the initiative has reached more than 4.2 million consumers, gained more than 12 million website impressions, garnered more than 2.5 million video views, she says.

After viewing the initiative, 75% of nonmembers surveyed would consider using a credit union.

“It’s our time to disrupt together and grab more market share,” Toalson says. “We need to use our ‘superhero powers’ of collaboration to link together. This is our time. If not now, when?”

She encouraged attendees to start using the Open Your Eyes message guide, visit to learn about the initiative’s benefits, and check out, the consumer-facing website that provides information about credit unions and membership eligibility.

“We’re not going to change consumers’ hearts and minds with a one-and-done effort.”

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