MAC Conference Breakout Session: Turning Staff Into Brand Champions


MAC Conference Breakout Session: Turning Staff Into Brand Champions

The 2017 MAC Conference is coming up on May 30th in Austin, Texas.

Randy Schultz, VP Marketing at Weber Marketing Group, and Dr. Neil Goldman, of Goldman Consulting & Strategy, lead an invaluable breakout session on how to turn your staff into brand champions.

Date: Thursday, June 1st
Time: 1:15pm, and again at 2:30pm
Location: The Westin Austin Downtown

Marketers speak to their brand every day, and many of those discussions are held internally as they talk social media strategies, product marketing and more. The roadblock is that most staff members don’t know:

  1. What their brand is all about
  2. Their role in the credit union's brand
  3. The organization's expectations of a differentiated experience that staff should be practicing on an everyday basis to separate you from the financial clutter. 

This interactive program pulls in the marketers themselves to talk about their pain points and success stories along with giving them practical tools they can take back to their organization to help turn their staff into Brand Champions.

Randy Schultz, VP Marketing, Weber Marketing Group

Randy Schultz, VP Marketing, Weber Marketing Group

Dr. Neil Goldman, GCS Consulting & Strategy

Dr. Neil Goldman, GCS Consulting & Strategy

Don't miss this session and everything else the MAC Conference has to offer.


Three tactics to best utilize data and behavioral analytics


Three tactics to best utilize data and behavioral analytics

Financial services organizations have access to some of the richest data and behavioral analytics around.

They know how people bank, borrow, save, transact and live their financial lives. But most organizations have limited ideas about how to harness that data, build strategies around it and use it to shape future performance. 

Thus more than ever, it pays to focus on this truth: Data and analytics generated by the customer provide a valuable blueprint for how to engage that customer in the future.

While creating a highly personalized digital experience occupies the minds of all financial services leaders, data analytics and application to drive performance can prove a game changer. Investing in data analytics technology, warehousing or marketing automation only mark the first steps. Banks also need the right people, processes and strategy to move data from interesting side notes to true business intelligence, strategy and profit-driving execution.

Most banks have data collection and storage systems, but often not linked. Many banks fail to cultivate specific ideas or strategies to collect what they want from the data—and determine how it can reshape customer experiences and performance. As the customer landscape continues to shift amid a digital and mobile revolution, banks must figure out how to use data to define growth strategies, create easier and simpler consumer engagement and ultimately grow wallet and market share.

Quantity, quality, strategy

Future growth with a demanding consumer audience depends on innovation, with enhanced customer experiences driving Net Promoter Scores and healthy referrals. Financial leaders need to use their data to identify their ideal existing target audience behaviors and patterns. This not only leads to better customer retention: It helps the organization grow.

Learning how to capture, cultivate and utilize the right data can help organizations marry qualitative knowledge and quantitative insights. This approach provides a wealth of data and opens the door for informed decisions, market analysis and modeling to create bold new growth strategies. 

Providers, privacy, products

Many insurance providers have made major strides with data analytics. They use algorithms to identify web-shopping patterns and build innovative models such as online policy price comparisons—while traditional banking providers have lagged in their use of data modeling. Because financial services organizations gather sensitive and confidential data, part of the challenge rests with addressing internal concerns over the balance of online privacy with delivering more innovative services.

That fear does not hold back a barrage of new online disruptive FinTech players—such as Acorns, Simple and Venmo—from creating rich new apps to make banking, payments, saving and investing simpler and more engaging.

One growing digital success story comes from Citigroup. As one of the world’s largest financial services organizations, Citigroup has adopted a robust, data-driven approach to provide simpler banking services and to grow market share. The company uses model testing to deconstruct its customer data analytics and to better understand how to engage with customers.

Financial services organizations can use analytics to mine their data and find new insights, which can reduce process complexity, improve customer channel experiences and bolster product performance strategies by reaching customers at the exact moment of need.

Here, then, are three tactics for making the best use of data:

1. Evaluate patterns, trends and triggers

Financial services organizations should focus on customers’ preferences, needs and behaviors to facilitate the organization’s growth. But first, determine what these are. Collect data and analyze trends using a strategic process to define customer behaviors and channel usage to help build future predictive models.

Organized data provides vital insights to sets of patterns, trends and triggers that define the customers’ choices and where the organization has succeeded (or failed) at responding to those moments. This can help define future digital actions and growth strategies.

2. Strategize your growth rise

This should start with identifying the most committed, productive and profitable customers. While financial services leaders know that not all customer relationships are equal in value, few can quantify which customer segments fall into the ideal 10 or 20 percent of users by product, profit generation and recency—and then find those segments in the general population to grow more of them. 

Conducting client and market analysis based on rich psychographic and lifestyle segmentation adds incredible value to data and market analytics. Lifestyle segmentation allows you to focus on laser targeting strategies well beyond basic demographics or vague clusters such as Millennials. By geocoding customer household data and tying it to market financial analytics and big data, we can now understand behaviors and market share, as well as forecast growth and predict performance trends.

When organizations can pinpoint future targeted growth segments and market performance, the profitability of each, and their growth in market population, they can better understand their market and how to best reach customers to optimize growth. Then it’s time to utilize behavioral data to identify patterns of actions for targeting.

3. Prioritize through models

By ranking and weighting specific tailored growth criteria, financial services leaders can build customized market algorithms that model future priorities. This can help pinpoint underperforming locations and future growth markets, increasing performance as a result. By leveraging data analytics, forecasting and market scoring, banks can model growth strategies out five years to target the most lucrative real estate opportunities. 

As for the present, financial services organizations sit on a wealth of data analytics and information, but do they use it to its fullest potential?

Start with the right process of defining growth plans, profitable products, distinctive brand experiences and value proposition. Then build the right data model and long-range growth strategy and performance model that will set the organization up for success. After all, nothing beats crunching the data that results from a stellar uptick in performance.

Original article published May 9, 2017 on BAI Banking Strategies.

Mark Weber, Founder & CEO, Weber Marketing Group

Mark Weber, Founder & CEO, Weber Marketing Group

Mark Weber is a marketing analyst, brand strategy consultant, and financial services industry expert. He advises clients on strategic brand and growth initiatives. He is a national speaker and author, and blogs on branding, branch prototyping, emerging technologies, and consumer behavior trends. Read more.


Forum Breakout Session: Harnessing the Power of Data Analytics to Achieve Strategic Brand Alignment


Forum Breakout Session: Harnessing the Power of Data Analytics to Achieve Strategic Brand Alignment

The 2017 financial brand forum in Las Vegas is the biggest financial marketing conference in the world.

Weber Marketing CEO, Mark Weber, and Firefly Credit Union CMO, Marty Kelly, lead an invaluable breakout session on leveraging data analytics to achieve strategic brand alignment.

Date: Thursday, May 18th
Time: 9:30am, and again at 11:00am
Location: The Cosmopolitan 

In a dynamically shifting world, it’s critical that your institution’s overarching strategic plan align everything together — your growth goals, the evolution of your retail delivery channels, your internal culture and your external brand experiences. If you’re not using the power of data analytics to drive these decisions and tie your strategy together, you’re behind the curve.

In this session, you’ll learn how leading financial institutions are leveraging insights gleaned through data analytics to achieve strategic clarity and improve their marketing ROI.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How data-driven insights will help you build alignment among key stakeholders for your institution’s strategic plan and future vision
  • How to leverage data analytics to align your brand strategy with business objectives, redefine your customer experience, and create a clear roadmap for future technology and branch plans
  • How to integrate psychographic modeling, lifestyle segmentation and heat map scoring into your marketing and growth plans
  • How a $1 billion financial institution uses data to bring renewed focus to their corporate growth initiatives
Martin Kelly, SVP/CMO, Firefly Credit Union

Martin Kelly, SVP/CMO, Firefly Credit Union

Mark Weber, CEO & Founder, Weber Marketing Group

Mark Weber, CEO & Founder, Weber Marketing Group

Don't miss this breakout session from the brightest minds in banking. To learn more and to register for the Financial Brand Forum, click here.


World Vision Global 6k for Water


World Vision Global 6k for Water

Kathy Karner, Traffic & Production Manager at Weber Marketing Group, is participating in the World Vision Global 6k for Water worldwide event on Saturday, May 6th.

People around the world will be walking/running/skipping 6k on May 6th. The 6k distance echoes the 6k average distance that people in developing countries, most often women and children, must walk daily to find drinking water. Often when they do, the water is dirty and unsafe. With World Vision’s help in these areas, $50 (the entrance fee for the event, also a target amount for fundraising) provides clean, close water to one child FOR LIFE. The price of 10 lattes can bring clean water to someone from here on out, a life-changing event.

Kathy's race bib has a picture of a boy named Belo, from Mozambique, who will benefit from this walk. He is also available for child sponsorship, which will help bring him and his village resources they would otherwise not have in health, education, training and services. 

Kathy Karner, Traffic & Production Manager, Weber Marketing Group

Kathy Karner, Traffic & Production Manager, Weber Marketing Group

I am excited to partner with World Vision in my goal to raise $500, or clean drinking water for 10 people. Can’t wait to walk 6k for water on Saturday, May 6th!!!
— Kathy Karner

Kathy is a passionate supporter of World Vision’s work in the world. She sponsors a child, Kavya, as well as emergency feet-on-the-ground services during crises. World Vision runs in when others are running out.

For more information, and to donate or register, click here.


Podcast: Social Media Intersecting Brand and Culture


Podcast: Social Media Intersecting Brand and Culture

I spoke with James Lenz, the Professional Development Manager at the Credit Union Executive Society, about developing social media strategy that reinforces your brand and your corporate culture. We talked about some really practical ways for organizations to drive engagement, develop more interesting and meaningful content, and still keep a handle on the resource commitment to social channels.

The CUES Podcast has listeners in over 15 countries and is available on podcast directories such as iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. It can also be reached at



Congratulations to our Diamond Award winning clients


Congratulations to our Diamond Award winning clients

The Diamond Awards recognize outstanding marketing and business development achievements in the credit union industry. The awards are presented by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing & Business Development Council, a national network comprised of over 1,200 credit union marketing and business development professionals. Awards are given in each of 30 categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

Several of our clients took home Diamond Awards this year:

Allegacy Federal Credit Union:

  1. Complete Campaign

Ardent Credit Union:

  1. Point of Sale Display & Retail Merchandising

Ent Credit Union:

  1. Complete Campaign
  2. Complete Campaign
  3. Commercial Video

Firefly Credit Union:

  1. Video
  2. Plastic Access Card Design
  3. Website Redesign

Fortera Credit Union:

  1. Logo

Leaders credit union:

  1. Logo

OnPoint Community Credit Union:

  1. Commercial Video
  2. Complete Campaign

San Mateo Credit Union:

  1. Point Of Sale Display & Retail Merchandising

Tidemark Credit Union:

  1. Logo

Award winners were recognized at the council’s 24th annual conference held March 29-April 1 in San Antonio, Texas. For more information on the Diamond Awards or to view the entire list of winners, click here.  


7 must have skills to elevate the strategic role of credit union marketers


7 must have skills to elevate the strategic role of credit union marketers

There is a rapid evolution occurring in the world of credit union marketing and branding—a series of fortunate events, if you will, that is elevating the strategic role and presence of marketing professionals.

In the not-too-distant past, if you’d given your marketing efforts a consistent brand look and feel, you’d done your job. Now, marketing priorities have broadened to place emphasis on integrating brand with culture and the execution of marketing strategies in a complex, dynamic and rapidly changing digital world.

The inextricable connection between brand and culture requires marketers to have an increased role organization wide, connecting all functions from operations to sales to product development to member experience.

The performance bar is at new heights. Marketers are expected to deliver well-crafted, comprehensive campaigns that generate a return on investment, create exceptional user experiences and maximize delivery channels. By necessity, the advanced knowledge and sophisticated skills required to be successful include:

  1. The ability to think strategically and back up ideas with execution;
  2. Deep, broad knowledge of financial services, consumer behavior and profitability drivers;
  3. Highly developed collaboration skills to help instill brand tenets, support cultural values and work to break down silos that get in the way of being a high-performing credit union;
  4. Marketing intelligence and ability to adapt proactively to impactful trends;
  5. Becoming more digitally focused, interpreting data and applying analytics, particularly to develop segmentation strategies to attract and retain profitable members;
  6. The ability to draw on experts, such as agencies, to fill specialized needs and manage a variety of roles and relationships; and
  7. Competency in all facets of digital marketing.

Unfortunately, many credit unions have not yet embraced the evolution of the strategic marketing profession. Leaders often question why, when their organization is successful, do they have to change so much? The answer is simple: What has helped them be successful in the past may not be the same thing that will work in the future. Undervaluing marketing may be a costly mistake. Credit unions with marketing efforts aligned to brand and culture find they drive efficiency and simplify their focus. That alone is worth elevating marketers to a higher profile, more strategic, executive-level role within their organizations.

Original article published on CUES Skybox Blog.

Karen McGaughey is VP Client Services and a Principal at Weber Marketing Group. She has over 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and branding and has earned the role of trusted advisor to many financial institution executives, having expertly guided their teams and Boards of Directors successfully through name and brand transformations, and marketing execution.

Join McGaughey and more thought-leaders in financial services marketing at  CUES School of Strategic Marketing™ I, July 17 – 19 and CUES School of Strategic Marketing™ II, July 20 – 21, both in Seattle. Attendees will take home knowledge and skills to share with their teams and lead organizational transformation.


How to use company culture as an organizational catalyst for brand transformation


How to use company culture as an organizational catalyst for brand transformation

Branding is everything when it comes to earning customers’ trust, and bad press can seriously damage a company’s reputation. But the root of the problem isn’t the branding or press — it’s the company’s culture.

Take Wells Fargo, for example. The company had to pay $185 million in fines after its employees allegedly opened millions of new accounts that customers may not have authorized in their haste to meet lofty sales goals.

The allegations don’t help the banking industry’s image, either. Two out of three consumers believe “all banks care about are their own interests.” And after the economic downturn of 2008, many consumers believe that all banks are the same. J.P. Morgan, for example, hired around 13,000 employees in the compliance area since 2012, yet 41-46 percent of consumers still see little difference between banks.

After the Wells Fargo fiasco, the company’s executives hired a third-party firm to examine its practices and help reform the culture that led its employees to create the fake accounts.

Focus on Values, Not Profits

Every great company knows that success and culture go hand in hand. A company that provides great service but is a miserable place to work won’t be successful for long. Wells Fargo focused on sales goals and profits instead of its employees, which only bolstered public perception that banks are only focused on their own interests.

Since 2008, banks and financial institutions have spent tens of millions of dollars on new initiatives that attempt to prove these organizations are resolving their harmful, profit-hungry culture problem. But with Wells Fargo-sized scandals occurring, it seems that most of these efforts have been superficial attempts to convince people they’ve changed their ways.

How, then, do financial leaders create sustainable (and legitimate) company cultures that can also improve their brand image?

Put People First

Business leaders must recognize that culture is the lifeblood of every organization. It strengthens a company, and a strong culture can help separate the top performers from the rest of the pack. We also learn about culture quickly from those around us, discovering what it takes to be successful based on what others do.

That’s why establishing a “sales culture” can be dangerous. When sales are prioritized over ethics and values, employees quickly learn that making money is the most important factor in becoming successful.

Sales incentives are not necessarily a bad thing. They can motivate employees to work harder to reach goals, after all. But if they’re poorly designed or overused, they can lead to greed, unethical behavior, and dishonesty. True employee motivation should be intrinsic and not solely focused on monetary goals, especially as younger employees want more than ever to find meaningful work.

Financial leaders should realize that culture is more than just a mission statement. It requires time, focus, and commitment. And it needs to be managed — after all, your company will always have a culture whether you cultivate it or not. Most companies, though, spend more time focusing on measurable, data-driven analysis than culture because culture is difficult to understand, implement, and measure.

Companies Doing It Right

Sometimes the best way to discover how to establish your own company’s culture is to look at other companies that are doing it well. One such financial institution is The World Bank, a United Nations-created institution that held down the No. 2 spot in Glassdoor’s “Best Financial Institutions to Work For” survey.

The World Bank has two goals: “End extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day to no more than 3 percent,” and “Promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent for every country.” The goals aren’t sales-related, but they do motivate employees to work hard so they make a difference in the lives of others.

The company also places a strong focus on keeping employees happy with a wide variety of perks besides a hefty paycheck.

“Employees are well-compensated and receive a very nice retirement package,” one The World Bank manager explained. “There is opportunity to travel to bank sites in 180 countries around the world. It is fascinating to speak with others about their experiences growing up in very diverse environments.”

The World Bank isn’t the only financial institution striving for a meaning-focused company culture. One banking company in Asia, for example, created a “culture-led evolution program” that was intended to entirely revamp the business’s practices.

The CEO and leadership team focused on three basic behaviors: going the extra mile to delight customers, prioritizing performance over seniority, and supporting one another. The executive team found ways to implement each of these three behaviors throughout every department of the business — encouraging frontline staff to collaborate with other employees to solve customer problems, for example, as a way to keep customers delighted — and recognized employees who made a strong effort.

Building a Culture to Last

If your organization needs to overhaul its company culture from the ground up, the task can seem daunting, to say the least. But it’s not impossible. There are a few simple things to keep in mind as you begin building a cultural foundation that will help your company flourish.

1. Define Your Current Culture

Before you can start making changes to your company’s culture that will help it improve, you have to define it. Edgar Schein, professor emeritus at MIT Sloan School of Management and author of several books on organizational and cultural development, identified three core culture areas to address.

The first is the artifacts of your organization: the tangible or verbally identifiable elements that make up your company. Office design, dress code, and interactions can all signify to observers who are not affiliated with the company what the culture is like.

The second area is the espoused values of the company. What are your stated values and rules of behavior? What is your written mission? What policies and values do you enforce? Items like past HR surveys, exit interviews, company handbooks, and customer surveys can all provide a strong lens into your company’s culture. Assess whether so-called legacy culture hangovers are still relevant to your day-to-day operations and expectations. If the documented culture is largely outdated, assemble a cross-departmental team to determine which values are important to your company and what they say about your brand.

Finally, identify your company’s shared basic assumptions. These deeply embedded behaviors are usually unconscious indicators of the very essence of your culture. Conduct strategic interviews with cross-section of your organization to best understand the unwritten rules of how your culture operates.

Together, these uncovered artifacts, espoused values, and assumptions allow you to craft a picture of the current state of your organization’s culture so you can bridge to the desired future state. Get into the habit of conducting culture audits and surveys at least once a year if possible.

2. Go on a Fact-Finding Mission

Identify which areas of employee performance are rewarded, what incentives your organization uses to motivate team members, and what managers are measuring when it comes to performance reviews. You’ll also need to consider what actions are cause for discipline, what you’re teaching through praise and acknowledgment, and what policies you have spelled out in the employee handbook.

It’s often difficult to get a clear view of your own culture from within the organization, so it can be helpful to bring in an outside consultant who can give you a fresh perspective.

It’s also important to engage senior leadership and middle managers. They must be ready and willing to make changes and prepared to proactively support and reinforce the brand’s new cultural standards. Conduct interviews to get their perspective on unwritten rules and behaviors to get a true sense of your company’s cultural ecosystem because they’re likely to have a better view of what really happens when high-level decisions are made.

3. Establish a New Culture — and Keep Tabs on It

Creating new cultural boundaries and then sitting back and letting the chips fall where they may isn’t enough; you’ll need to consistently check in to ensure everything is still running as smoothly as planned.

Conduct culture audits and surveys at least once a year, and create a culture development road map that will outline how you intend to maintain and reinforce the culture you worked so hard to establish. You’ll also need to consistently provide the resources and tools that employees need to be successful. As a leader, you’re responsible for teaching staff about culture rather than just hoping they’ll pick up on the changes on their own.

Because culture is the current that keeps your organization running, it’s the most important aspect of the hiring process for employees. Make sure both new and established employees know what is expected of them in terms of culture, and hold the company and team members at every level accountable.

It may sound like a lot of work for something that’s difficult to define and measure, but in a world where consumers are increasingly skeptical of companies’ values — especially in the financial services industry — that work will pay off. Consumers’ trust is crucial for success, and establishing a healthy company culture is the best way to accomplish that.

Original article published March 21, 2017 on International Banker.

Karen McGaughey, VP Client Services | Principal, Weber Marketing Group

Karen McGaughey has over 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and branding. She has earned the role of trusted advisor to many financial institution executives, having expertly guided their teams and Boards of Directors successfully through name and brand transformations, and marketing execution. Read more...


First Merchants Bank: Designed for Inspiration


First Merchants Bank: Designed for Inspiration

Inspiration can be a powerful tool. But it doesn't happen by accident.

With almost 6,000 U.S. banks (not including the 6,200 credit unions), operating nearly 100,000 financial branches, there is generally very little difference in their design, operations, or customer experiences. It is easy for consumers to get lost in the sea of financial brand “sameness.” Only rarely do consumers find a bold and modern branch experience as branded or well designed as an Apple Store or a boutique hotel.

The dated branch model poses a huge competitive growth challenge for community banks attempting to stand out among well-funded megabanks like Wells, Chase and Citi, and even strong regional banks like US Bank and PNC.

For one community bank, First Merchants Bank, the second largest financial services holding company in Indiana, their leaders decided to step up and take on the challenge of competing for brand distinction — and even inspiring employees head on. First Merchants President and CEO Mike Rechin shared, “our goal was to go from a fairly traditional bank branch toward a vision of community banking where customers, neighborhood business owners and community partners get the support and guidance they need to flourish financially, aligned with today’s technology and digital banking habits. We knew this differentiated approach would require a strong brand partner to help us design a completely distinctive experience.”

So how does a bank take on the challenge of attracting customers?

When people hear the word ‘bank’ today, many have a well-defined perception of a very traditional brick and mortar branch with long teller lines. And who wants to spend one extra minute waiting inside a branch?

That’s exactly the stigma the $7 billion First Merchants wanted to alter. The First Merchants team reached out to national financial brand experts Weber Marketing Group of Seattle, WA. They wanted to shatter the perceptions of a boring bank by finding fresh inspiration and brand relevance in the design of a brand new prototype branch: one that looked more like 2020 than 1980.

We knew this differentiated approach would require a strong brand partner to help us design a completely distinctive experience.
— Mike Rechin, President & CEO, First Merchants Bank
A cross-functional design team collaborated with the Weber team to create a distinctive new branch prototype.

A cross-functional design team collaborated with the Weber team to create a distinctive new branch prototype.

Their journey first took them on the road to a series of Weber-led Seattle experience tours to explore brand leaders. From Starbucks new flagship Roastery prototype, to REI, Umpqua Bank, Pike Place Market, and finally the world’s largest foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it was the first step in their Prototype Visioning Process to create an experience completely unique to their Indiana bank brand.

Finding brand inspiration in unlikely places.

When you think of non-profit organizations, rarely do you think of world-class architecture, an 11,000 sq ft curated visitors center filled with life-changing stories, hands-on activities, global partner features and videos of real-life community struggles.

Bank leaders found their inspiration in the halls of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, during their brand tours in Seattle, WA. They heard compelling stories and inspiring conversations that help support a paradigm shift  in their approach to creating a differentiated banking experience. 

But why inspire? This is a bank, after all. There are financial targets to hit, customers to retain, new customers to attract. What can inspiration do to help increase performance or growth?

First Merchants Bank’s First Vice President, Retail Banking, Deborah Robinson shared, “we began to realize we had to answer the question of ‘why’ first. It was even more important than ‘what’ we were trying to do with a new prototype. For us, The Gates Visitor Center humanized hundreds of global poverty obstacles they tackle daily by sharing why they are motivated to improve lives.” It struck a huge chord from a community bank perspective and provided affirmation that doing things differently – delivering a truly differentiated experience – could in fact make a positive impact in the quality of our customers’ lives and their own communities.”

The Gates Visitor Center features brand engaging storytelling and displays to inspire corporate and personal philanthropy.

The Gates Visitor Center features brand engaging storytelling and displays to inspire corporate and personal philanthropy.

“Action might be what we care about, but inspiration will lead us there. Inspiration is a tool, not just a byproduct that must be managed if you hope to attract new customers,” says Josh Streufert, Creative Director, Principal at Weber Marketing.

From those early Seattle brand tours and ensuing Visioning sessions and personal storytelling, came the inspirational goal to fuse old and new technologies into key design focal points to be seen throughout the new Broad Ripple branch prototype. 

Targeting a dynamic & competitive urban market.

In a small Indianapolis neighborhood known for its artsy vibe, innovators, and unique entrepreneurial ways of thinking, First Merchants decided to take on the challenge of tackling a hip, urban market called Broad Ripple. Market research revealed three key audience lifestyle targets to which this new experience would likely appeal. In addition to focusing on the young professionals and small business owners with tech- savvy habits, First Merchants wanted to spark conversations, provide engagement opportunities and shake up status quo banking in the market.

“We used bold language to challenge the status quo of banking and inspire a partnership, like “What can we build together?” said Weber’s Streufert.

Inspiring customers and leveraging positive culture shifts with a welcoming vibe.

It is important to grow inspiration not only from the people in front of the counter but also behind it. To the First Merchants team this meant creating a branch that inspired positive interactions, not only with staff and customers, but with smart phones, personal social media content and tablet technologies. 

A bank, like home isn’t just about the physical space, but the people inside it. First Merchants values their employees as their greatest asset, and thoughtfully sought employees who were willing to bring their authentic self to work. They sought individuals who wanted to engage and interact with customers and people in the community, not just monotonously going to a job at a bank.

From the locally roasted coffee bar, to conversation starting visual messaging, every detail of the prototype is tailored to the brand experience.

From the locally roasted coffee bar, to conversation starting visual messaging, every detail of the prototype is tailored to the brand experience.

The Weber Marketing team worked very closely with a hand-picked team of cross- functional leaders at First Merchants to help develop an inspiration-rich environment. Together, they created a space that tapped the most meaningful desires and life needs of the Broad Ripple community: a first child; a new home or a move; or funding for a growing small business.

In an effort to focus on the uber-local centric nature of the Broad Ripple community, First Merchants sourced local products for all of the branch features, down to the locally roasted coffee beans for their coffee bar and local artists whose work was showcased on digital displays and offices. 

This new branch prototype ‘brings a fresh and inspiring perspective to the future of preserving and growing wealth, as well as inspiring entrepreneurs far beyond just their money,’ according to Ruth Kapcia, Director of Retail Experience at Weber Marketing.

The inspiring new brand vision for First Merchants is realised in every detail.
— Deborah Robinson, First Vice President, Retail Banking

Building an innovative mobile & social interactive channel "first". 

In banking today, mobile technology is reshaping consumer experiences with highly developed smart phones, apps, and social media. There are vast ways to connect people that banks have not yet learned to fully tap.

Weber and First Merchants set out to develop a new mobile application for their customers that would inspire “social conversations” around what was important in their lives, and the causes and local non- profits they most cared about.

So Weber Marketing turned to their digital partner Codigo to help create a “first to market” Omni-channel “Social Media Wall.” It updates in real time, smart phone user comments that are simultaneously uploaded in the branch and on social sites.

Guests are invited to be part of the branch experience. With a mobile app and interactive social wall, their photos and stories are easily shared.

Guests are invited to be part of the branch experience. With a mobile app and interactive social wall, their photos and stories are easily shared.

The custom designed Social Wall gives customers a voice in community impact by uploading mobile user content to social media sites.
— Josh Streufert, Creative Director, Weber Marketing Group

The inspiring new brand vision for First Merchants is realized in every detail of the branch, from local artifacts, to workspaces open to the community for hosting meetings or talking through financial options from a banking specialist. The bold colors, graphics and inspiring quotes resonate with the eclectic Broad Ripple community. Robinson added, “people almost can’t believe it’s a bank branch, but we’ve seen people inspired to move their banking relationships to a place that defines how they want to be treated and recognizes and celebrates the uniqueness of their community. The banking center is additive to Broad Ripple. Our goal was to recognize, serve and celebrate what makes them unique.”

Showcased to a sold out house at BAI retail deliverY 2015.

The new branch prototype was showcased during a panel presentation featuring First Merchants’ Robinson and Weber Marketing’s Streufert at the 2015 BAI Retail Delivery Conference.

The standing room only crowd was hungry to learn how a branch prototype might transform a typical transaction relationship into a differentiated experience that inspires customers, employees, and communities alike.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 1.10.15 PM.png

Branch photography used by permission of First Merchants Bank.


Josh Streufert to speak on branding at CUES Execu/Summit


Josh Streufert to speak on branding at CUES Execu/Summit

weber marketing group's creative director josh streufert is speaking on branding at the cues execu/summit in march at the westin snowmass resort in snowmass village, colorado.

"Fire and rust"

Friday, March 10th, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Josh Streufert, Creative Director & Principal, Weber Marketing Group

Josh Streufert, Creative Director & Principal, Weber Marketing Group

The world’s top CEOs lead their organizations from a brand-first perspective. At the most basic level, brand is how you are perceived by the market. Jeff Bezos said that, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It's foundational to affinity, loyalty and consumer choice. In that sense, brand is the most valuable asset that any institution possesses—a complex mix of culture, actions, identity, and marketing.

In this session, we’ll explore why some brands fuel massive growth, while others may unwittingly keep their organizations from reaching their full potential. We’ll tackle questions of strategy, structure, and examine the critical factors to building a brand on fire, versus one that simply rusts away.


Weber Marketing Group announces three promotions.


Weber Marketing Group announces three promotions.

We're excited to announce that Ruth Kapcia, Matt DeVries and Charlotte Boutz have all been promoted for their outstanding contributions to the agency.

Ruth Kapcia Headshot 2017 (Square)

Ruth Kapcia


Ruth has over 25 years of experience in retail design and visual merchandising. At Weber, Ruth designs, plans, and develops some of the most innovative retail financial prototypes in North America, including a new branch model for Canada’s largest credit union, Vancity. 

Ruth has worked at some of the nations top brand and retail companies, including Starbucks, Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. Her knowledge and expertise in retail merchandising, POS displays, interior environments and branding helps clients set themselves completely apart from their competition. Read more...

Matt DeVries

Director of finance

Matt has 30+ years of experience in finance and accounting, spread between a variety of middle-market private and publicly traded manufacturing, service and technology companies. He brings a passion for solving complex finance, accounting and operational problems to our team. A Chicago native, Matt now resides in Seattle with his wife and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Charlotte Boutz-CONNELL

Director of Client Experience

Charlotte brings over 12 years of experience in account management, brand strategy, and consumer insights development to guide positive outcomes for clients. She is passionate about storytelling to connect brands with audiences.

Charlotte has worked across industries from global enterprise initiatives to local business startups. Her experience includes traditional advertising, social media strategies, brand building and product design innovation. Read more...


Mark Weber Speaking at Washington Banker's Marketing Conference in March


Mark Weber Speaking at Washington Banker's Marketing Conference in March

Weber Marketing group's CEO Mark Weber is speaking on data analytics and strategy at the washington bankers assocation marketing conference in SeaTac, Washington in March.

Aligning Data Analytics & Strategy to Transform Branch Experiences, Brand Performance & Prototype Modeling

Tuesday, March 21st, 11:15am-12:15pm

Mark Weber, CEO, Weber Marketing Group

Mark Weber, CEO, Weber Marketing Group

In a dynamically shifting market, your corporate strategic branch initiatives must be fully linked to your future channel evolution, market growth strategy, internal culture and brand experiences. But how often does the process start with data analytics, local market analysis, lifestyle segment differences and future-focused strategies to first define a 2021 Growth Road Map right for your market?

In the first part of this session, you’ll learn how banks can define their future segmentation targets and develop highly targeted 2021 Branch Network Plans using powerful data analytics and market scoring methods to reduce ineffective branches and target ideal growth opportunities.

Once your branch business objectives and market growth strategy are aligned, you’re ready to “reimagine banking: and design a new “2021 Branch Prototype Business Model,” supported by new technologies, brand and cultural initiatives and profitable products to drive new experiences and higher performance. We’ll share a best practice collaborative team process using bank case studies on how to realign and redesign your operations, processes, staffing model, branding and touch points to simplify and boost user brand experiences — and find competitive advantage.


Redwood Credit Union feels the love.


Redwood Credit Union feels the love.

It's not everyday a client hires us to leave their brand alone.

As one of the top credit unions in the country, what do you do when you already have a solid brand (but not communicated well), a flourishing business, and increasingly meaningful competition in your market? You figure out the answer to the critical question: how do we stay on top?

Redwood Credit Union (RCU), of Santa Rosa, CA, knew they had a strong brand, though a bit dated visually, and didn’t want to limit its growth by simply refreshing it for the sake of change. The problem was a lack of clarity in how to fully express the brand and talk about it in a consistent and differentiating way across the organization. They wanted to continue on their consistent path to success, but weren’t exactly sure how to shape their brand and maintain it. The credit union’s brand had so much potential; all it needed was a boost in the right direction. 

We weren’t looking to rebrand. We were looking for a way to articulate our brand that captured the real essence of who we were and what made us special.
— Brett Martinez, CEO, Redwood Credit Union

The credit union had remained financially strong, and was steadily onboarding new members. RCU was already a consistent winner as one of the best places to work in the North Bay Area. But does a great business slow down when they’ve accomplished so much on their way to the top? Absolutely not. It is the responsibility of the employees and stakeholders to help ensure it continues to grow. So, Redwood management reached out to Weber Marketing Group in hopes of more clearly defining their brand and amplifying their already thriving organization. 

Sometimes all you need to do is reflect, redefine and refresh.

Sometimes all you need to do is reflect, redefine and refresh.

Competing for more than member growth.

As a leading competitor in the financial sector in the North Bay Area, RCU was competing well against big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. But they needed to find a unique way to stand out more clearly in relevant ways to new and younger audiences. A er taking inventory of the current status of the brand with an extensive quantitative and qualitative market research process across three regional areas, Weber Marketing Group then moved on to define the credit union’s target audiences.

Using an array of sophisticated lifestyle segmentation tools, a geo-demographic analysis program and actual market demand/potential metrics for selected products, RCU’s overall target audience was defined as ‘Enhancement Seekers’, or those who have higher incomes, more education, are extremely active, and are goal-oriented people.

Finding the right brand identity to differentiate the credit union for enhancement seekers started first by looking at its current members, then looking to the future and the new members RCU expected to bring in. A newly articulated brand would need to gel with both current and future members, as the credit union stepped outside its normal comfort zones to communicate its values. But in order to do all this, they needed a new foundation to work from, and a new outlook to share with all staff  and members.

Interpreting employee understanding of the brand.

The team at Weber Marketing Group began an internal review on the current status of RCU’s culture with an extensive qualitative and quantitative research process. Robin McKenzie, SVP Marketing and Communications noted: “Many employees could describe facets of RCU’s brand, but could not consistently articulate the key brand essence or promise. Not boiling that promise down was holding us back from taking our brand to the next level.”

Is it possible to fall in love with a credit union?

Research found the name Redwood was well entrenched in the community. With strong awareness, a stellar image, a reputation for competitive pricing and a long-standing connection with its members, RCU discovered early on that their name was a major asset. They chose to forgo a name-change many credit unions take looking for a fresh start. Instead, they wanted to leverage their name by articulating and expressing the essence of the brand for more robust and relevant storytelling.

The mission was clear. Uncover Redwood Credit Union’s unique DNA and bring it to life.
— John Mathes, Director of Brand Strategy, Weber Marketing Group
Dimensional in-branch office displays bring together the personal and the product with an approachable voice and authentic imagery.

Dimensional in-branch office displays bring together the personal and the product with an approachable voice and authentic imagery.

Everywhere Weber Marketing Group turned they encountered a deep a affinity for RCU, almost a love a air, something totally unheard of for a financial institution. Most people view banking as a chore, like going to the dry cleaners. Rarely is banking viewed as an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

For RCU, there was no denying the love for the organization that every employee and member expressed. Time and time again, research revealed members and employees alike had tremendous love for the credit union and its passion, culture, and commitment to serving its members. Weber Marketing Group determined that ‘love’ — a word not often used for a financial institution — was a differentiating brand attribute.

“Let me count the ways...”

The concept of building a brand around the idea of ‘love’ was a challenging proposition because the concept could easily venture into territories not appropriate for a financial institution.

Weber Marketing Group needed to capture the idea of ‘love’ for RCU in a relevant, motivating, and differentiating way that created an emotional and personal relationship with the consumers.

So, Weber Marketing Group took the base idea of love as RCU’s brand essence (the ‘why’ they do what they do) and crafted a home run of a brand promise: “We love to help you succeed.”

There's an energy created when you do what you love and love what you do.

There's an energy created when you do what you love and love what you do.

We love to help you succeed’ became the perfect expression of the RCU brand. It drives and motivates the entire organization’s passion to help members and certainly sets it vastly apart from the financial institutions RCU competes with.

Further development led to a brand tagline, that captures the promise and resonates with everyone in a personal way... ‘For all that you love.’

Conceptualized ideas come to life.

Everyone associated with RCU loves (pun intended) the newly articulated brand. It’s concise, clear, refreshing, and perfectly captures the DNA of the organization.

The first step in communicating an enterprise-wide strategic brand shift  is to bring all employees on board for a thorough understanding of the organization’s objectives. Weber Marketing Group designed a custom brand-training program implemented in a series of Brand Camps across the RCU network. Every single RCU associate graduated from the Camp and every new hire is onboarded through a video version of the training. The outcome is that the entire organization knows why ‘We love to help you succeed’ is the promise RCU makes and can articulate it accurately with consistency, actions, and shared storytelling.

Redwood's multi-faceted approach to meeting members' needs is reflected in the high-impact brand wall.

Redwood's multi-faceted approach to meeting members' needs is reflected in the high-impact brand wall.

Branding experiences.

With the internal branding complete, Weber Marketing Group turned to the outward expression of the brand. A key component is the experience a member receives in the branch.

Cynthia Negri, EVP, Chief Operating Officer explained, “As we worked to evolve our retail branch experiences, we linked our new segmentation model into a branch network strategy to identify our future growth markets. Then we used our brand and the Weber team to help us navigate a process of branch prototype design and new branded merchandising elements.”

A complete overhaul of the communication and merchandising within the branches now conveys fresh messaging that is relevant, motivating, informative and most importantly, establishes a unique engagement specific to RCU. The expression of ‘love’ comes alive with environmental design, digital messaging, interactive community outreach, product features, promotions and overall imaging.

An interactive community space allows members to share stories, goals, what they love about RCU, or just say 'hi'.

An interactive community space allows members to share stories, goals, what they love about RCU, or just say 'hi'.

All other consumer contact points have been infused with the brand articulation. From the responsive website to the mobile platform, to advertising and communication. Weber Marketing Group continues to create external campaigns backed by television radio, print, direct mail, digital and more.

The result of the credit union’s brand transformation is reflective in the expanded reach of its newly developed brand, creative campaigns, branch messaging, and staff cultural training. In 2015, total assets increased by 14 percent to $2.8 billion, and through the first nine months of 2016 they have grown over 15% to $3.15 billion. Net income in 2015 grew by 2.2% reaching more than $48 million. Net income for 2016 is forecasted at $55 million, an ROA of 1.84%. The credit union’s member base grew almost 6 percent in 2015 and is tracking at 7.5% growth in 2016. As California’s 11th largest credit union, Redwood saw growth in loans, up by 14 percent to $2.1 billion and is forecasted at a 20% increase for 2016.

In 2015, total assets grew by 14%

Loans increased by 14%

Membership grew by 6% in the same period.


In May 2015, independent consulting group, Glatt Consulting, named RCU the “Healthiest Credit Union in the Nation,” out of approximately 6,100 credit unions. The ranking was based on 11 areas of criteria, including net worth, return on assets, loan charge-o s, deposit growth, and ratio of loans to deposits.

In February 2016, Redwood received four Diamond Awards at the 2016 Credit Union National Association. In addition to their Corporate Identity, Brand Articulation, Electronic Marketing Campaign, and Business Services video winning awards, the standout winner was their Investment Services Geo- Targeted Campaign, which was named a ‘Category Best’ winner. The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Awards “recognize creative excellence and out- standing results in credit union marketing.”

From social media and SEM to statement inserts, Redwood spreads the love across all channels.

From social media and SEM to statement inserts, Redwood spreads the love across all channels.

Simple, clean design with clear, concise messaging.

Simple, clean design with clear, concise messaging.

We love a good challenge.

Weber Marketing Group didn’t rebrand Redwood Credit Union. It led a research- based and staff  engaged process that uncovered the essence of Redwood’s personality and articulated the brand in a way that differentiates it and makes it relevant for many years to come. “There’s an energy created when you do what you love and you love what you do. This energy fuels our credit union’s endless care and devotion to passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees, and our communities,” said Robin McKenzie, SVP Marketing and Communications.

For any financial institution, big or small, a well-defined brand strategy is essential to finding a competitive difference that can lead to new levels of success for the organization. For many, their identity is built upon a foundation that may no longer exist or sparsely exists today. Other times, credit unions may have simply lost their way pursuing a community charter hoping that alone would characterize the credit union’s brand and personality. By articulating and defining the brand, the credit union is able to establish a renewed foundation from which to build the brand and dive deeper into opportunities for growth and expansion. 


The Doney Memorial Pet Clinic


The Doney Memorial Pet Clinic

This past month, Weber Marketing Group came together on behalf of The Doney Memorial Pet Clinic, which provides Seattle’s homeless and low-income pet stewards with free and low-cost veterinary services. Nearly a dozen Weber employees and vendors — some pictured here — gathered food, toys, and supplies to distribute during upcoming clinics at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

Doney’s clients face hardship all year round, and the help they get from holiday drives like these is a similarly year-round benefit. Best of all, as a service run entirely on volunteer energy, there’s very little administration to get between donors and recipients. The goodwill is real, immediate, and palpable.

Warm beds, new toys, nutritious food, harnesses, leashes and other necessities collected during WMG’s holiday food drive. (l-r) Joshua Law, Ruth Kapcia, Amy Morales, Barbara Glenn. Not pictured: Randy Schultz, Bruce Northey, Dana Northey, Ben Stangland, Mark Weber, Kory Davidson, Jamie Layton from Weber print parter Imagine Visual Service.

Warm beds, new toys, nutritious food, harnesses, leashes and other necessities collected during WMG’s holiday food drive. (l-r) Joshua Law, Ruth Kapcia, Amy Morales, Barbara Glenn. Not pictured: Randy Schultz, Bruce Northey, Dana Northey, Ben Stangland, Mark Weber, Kory Davidson, Jamie Layton from Weber print parter Imagine Visual Service.