Tara Graff

'Creatively Creative' Marketing Director Generates Award-Winning Communications

'I like to have goals. Without a couple of big goals to work toward, I feel lost.'

September 30, 2014


TARA GRAFF IS PORTRAYED by her colleague Casey Carlson as “creatively creative” and “über-talented.” And, “Emily Dickinson-esque.”

“I hope that doesn’t mean I’ll be famous only after I’m dead!” Graff quips. “Ever since I was little, I loved writing. In grade school, I would write plays and skits and ask my friends to perform them on the playground.”

It looks like those playground skits are paying off.

As the director of marketing at SPIRE Credit Union in Falcon Heights, Minn., Graff breathed new life into the credit union’s communications. In 2014, SPIRE won three CUNA advertising Diamond Awards.

Carlson, vice president of marketing, says that Graff’s “fingerprints were on all of them.”

“We won a Category’s Best with a branding video that Tara had to complete in less than two weeks with a very limited budget,” he says. “Furthermore, the brand awareness from the television commercials that she produced and won awards for is outstanding.”

How did Graff script, get voice-over talent, line up interviews, shoot, and edit a television campaign in just two weeks? Jamming to pop hits from the 1970s, of course.

“I was up until 1 a.m. the morning before it was due, working with my videographer to finalize the edit,” she says. “We worked and jammed along to the jukebox, playing every song in the Hall & Oates catalog.”

Graff is “never bored.”

“My days might include brainstorming concepts for an auto loan acquisition campaign with my team, creating targeted member email communications, writing original content for the website, and shopping for unique promo giveaways.”

With a background in advertising, Graff brought fresh talents to the table when she joined SPIRE’s team.

“I cut my teeth at an advertising agency, where we worked with clients in a number of industries, including health care, tourism, and financial services. With such a variety of clients, I learned the importance of a consistent brand voice.”

Graff describes SPIRE’s branding as, “down-to-earth, accessible, and genuine.”

“What you see in our television ads and hear on the radio—that’s how you’ll be treated, whether you speak with our CEO or any member of our front-line staff. We’re here to improve lives.”

Graff deeply enjoys her work. “I feel like I’ve found my niche and would love to continue to grow my career in this industry,” she says. “I feel good at the end of my days. If my work has introduced someone new to life-changing benefits of a credit union membership, I feel really good. I believe our work can make such a positive difference in people’s lives.”