Community Financial Credit Union’s Tansley Stearns (left) and Fisher Island Lemonade’s Dave Mevoli talk “Booze & Branding” Wednesday at the 2023 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference in Orlando. (Photo by

Universal lessons of marketing storytelling

Dave Mevoli shares how Fishers Island Lemonade differentiates its brand.

April 3, 2023

Credit unions often look to other credit unions for tips and tricks. The final day of the 2023 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference in Orlando gave attendees a look at how branding and storytelling spreads across all markets.

“Be authentic and true to your brand, whatever that brand might be,” says Fishers Island Lemonade Chief Operating Officer Dave Mevoli, who was interviewed by Community Financial Credit Union President/CEO Tansley Stearns for Wednesday morning’s “Booze & Branding” session. “Fishers Island is a real place with a real face and a real story. We love to tell the story of how we started, the little roots we have, and how we’ve grown.”

The story of Fishers Island Lemonade is written all over its canned cocktails. Inspired by the house cocktail at The Pequot Inn on Fishers Island, N.Y., Fishers Island Lemonade launched in 2014 and continues to build a lifestyle brand around the beach, summer, boats, water, and golf.

“Our can has a lot of unique identifiers on it,” Mevoli says. “There’s a silhouette of the island and it naturally evokes the beach or country club. We also evoke the exact latitude and longitude of the island. It’s those tiny little identifiers that are super fun, and that’s how you know it’s Fishers Island.”

While Fishers Island Lemonade has a natural brand feel, Mevoli believes credit unions can use the same approach to create relationships with consumers.

“When you boil it all down, it’s really about one-to-one relationships and what that person gets out of that marketing message,” he says. “Go out, tell your story, and interact with people.”

Those one-on-one relationships have helped Fishers Island carve out a market while competing against much larger brands with massive budgets. Many credit unions are in the same position, operating against large financial institutions—nationally and locally.

To keep the lack of resources from being an obstacle, Mevoli suggests credit unions build a brand, tell their story to individuals, cultivate relationships, turn relationships into sales opportunities, and take advantage of free marketing opportunities.

“Having a great story to tell is what makes magazines, radio, or TV want to come and talk to us, because we have a story that influences their readership or viewership,” he says, adding that the beverage business uses the phrase “liquid to lips” to stress the importance of getting people to taste the product. Without tasting it, consumers won’t know what the product is, and can’t be influenced.

“Tasting and touching the product is incredibly important,” Mevoli says. “Each of you is going out introducing individual members to products and services. Do that, bring that to them, and let them get that experience. Once someone has an incredibly positive experience associated with your brand, you have them for life.”

Furthermore, the best way to provide services that consumers want is by getting to know the consumers. That goes for the alcohol industry, credit union movement, and any other consumer good or service.

“Once we figure out what they’re trying to solve for, we organize our product to help answer that question,” Mevoli says of how Fishers Island builds relationships with consumers and business partners. “When you do that, you become a more valuable partner.”