Viewing entries in
Branding

Beyond ROI: Measuring future brand success in more than dollars and cents.

Comment

Beyond ROI: Measuring future brand success in more than dollars and cents.

Why ROI may be the wrong measure of success.

There is no standardized metric or database in the financial services industry today that measures and quantifies the brand value and ROI of community banks (non-publicly traded) or credit unions. Yet many executives desire to know the ROI before acting on needed improvements and investing in their brand, logo or name.

Financial leaders who have completed strategic rebranding programs point directly to their significant investment in an enterprise-wide rebranding effort and attribute a range of direct and substantial impacts ranging from higher client acquisition rates, increased lending, higher employee engagement and NPS scores and market share expansion.

Interestingly, the same desired standard for ROI is rarely used for many other capital investments leaders routinely make in technology, branch automation and operational projects. Brands are a less tangible asset compared to online banking system upgrades that enhance user experience, yet there is no standard ROI for tech investments. However, a weak or poorly differentiated brand can stifle market awareness, diminish prospect interest and slow market share growth (including new branch investments). Few leaders ever ask the question: What is the risk, or lost “opportunity cost” of an ineffective brand, a confusing name or a dated logo and brand image?

Your financial institution’s corporate brand and image is arguably far more valuable an asset, and more visible than a $2.0 million investment in one new freestanding neighborhood branch. Your brand shapes market and consumer perceptions and defines your competitive market positioning and reputation. Many leaders know their brands are ill-defined, or even impossible to articulate clearly. Their brands are inconsistently linked across channels, not understood among their employees, and randomly communicated across marketing, channels and social media.

While leaders understandably love to see the marketing ROI metrics of loan campaigns, email and digital marketing, these are short-term measures—and while vital to driving revenue, they are not the most important strategic measure of a high-functioning organizational brand program with competitive market distinction. These are larger and significant measures that influence growth, market image and cultural alignment.

Why "ROO" is a better long-term measure of brand success and cultural alignment than ROI alone.

Should the lack of a tangible ROI stop your organization from tackling a transformative branding process to articulate the current equity (good, bad and ugly) in your brand, name, branches, mobile and channel experiences today, so you can make badly needed improvements?

Is it possible that ROI might actually be the wrong primary measure of investing in your corporate brand, logo or your name to improve your competitive distinction? Targeted market growth planning, successful brand differentiation, high NPS scores, cultural alignment and employee satisfaction can all be part of a wider set of vital signs of a thriving and well-focused organization—beyond ROI.

Organizational improvement factors that help you increase your competitive market differentiation, raise market awareness of your unique value proposition, and bring positive shifts in consumer perceptions that lead to accelerated growth, plus market share and retention are what we call ROO (Return on Objectives). Collectively, ROO can drive market share, wallet share and long-term performance gains.

In our work with large credit union and community bank clients across the US and Canada, we have quantified a wide array of organizational growth metrics, multi-year trend patterns, and consumer and leader anecdotes, cultural shifts and stories that unequivocally demonstrate that their brand investment drives measurable organizational improvements.

Logix Logo.png
“We’ve learned that making data-driven market decisions and growth forecast planning, combined with understanding our target member’s preferences and behaviors, has led us to make more intelligent and far more accurate decisions that have helped increase Logix’s bottom line performance and to deliver rich and distinctive member brand experiences.”
-Phil Hart, COO, Logix Credit Union, CA, $5 billion

Why global brand leaders understand the value of their brand.

Sophisticated public companies with measurable stock values like Amazon and Starbucks don’t ask what the ROI of branding is before they invest major resources in managing and evolving their brand experiences, market perceptions and internal brand culture. They actively manage, design, reinvent and proactively work to keep their brand evolving, relevant to consumers and “best in class.”

The most successful corporate leaders know that a strong brand image, superior brand experiences online, in-store, via mobile channels, and design and product innovations yield huge payoffs in ROI, growth and stock value.

"Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination."
-Sir Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin

The most renowned measures of the economic value (and ROI) of public company brands is a decade-long program developed by Kantar Millward Brown called BrandZ. Each year they identify the most successful brands in the world by industry, including financial services.

Their formula attributes stock performance, increased revenues, market share growth and consumer survey perceptions to quantify an organization’s brand value.

In 2017 BrandZ valued the VISA brand at $111 billion; Apple at $235 billion and Chase Bank’s brand at $14.3 billion. Google was ranked the #1 brand in the world, valued at $246 billion. 

Strategic branding programs that become an enterprise-wide focus strongly influence and ultimately improve growth and ROI. But like many major strategic growth initiatives, they are better defined as ROO investments that must be made to evolve, compete, retain and inspire people, resulting in sustained performance and consistency. 

Following a 2014 rebranding and name change program to attract a younger audience and badly-needed loan growth, Jim McCarthy, CEO of Trailhead, a Portland, Oregon-based credit union, attributed the bulk of their financial success metrics to their enterprise-wide, transformative brand process initiative. McCarthy shared, “We don’t have the budget to do large ad campaigns, so I’d say we’ve attracted that millennial audience through our new and distinctive brand image. Employees feel a new sense of pride in our brand.” The results have been staggering, and record growth trends continue three years later in 2017: 

  • In the first year, lending increased 18%; Loan to share ratio increased from 59% to 78% and website traffic increased 28%.
  • New account growth increased 367% to 131 accounts a month.
  • Trailhead achieved it’s highest earnings in 10+ years: NIM increased 71BP; Net Worth grew 54BP.
  • Net member growth went from 7 years of negative growth to +18.9% the 1st year; then averaged 15.7% growth annually the next three years (2014–2017).
 Read a case study on Trailhead Credit Union  here .

Read a case study on Trailhead Credit Union here.

While Trailhead’s performance numbers are not about ROI alone, no one could argue the direct value, payoff and residual benefits of the investment in a comprehensive rebranding and renaming program. It moved Trailhead from seven years of stagnation to accelerated growth, financial health and a staff culture on fire with renewed enthusiasm and newfound focus. Trailhead has also successfully acquired a critical and elusive younger Millennial target audience. Millennials aged 25–34 grew 173% from 2014 to 2017, reducing their average member age by an incredible 8 years in three years.

So why can't you measure all brand projects with an exact ROI?

Some financial leaders believe marketing, advertising or branding efforts must show an ROI or they have no value to the organization or bottom line. Branding and marketing are held to a higher standard of ROI tracking. Yet few would argue that investing in your organization’s brand, culture, channel design and reputation among clients, prospects, stakeholders and your communities is crucial to future success. 

Some CFOs use pat formulas to show a breakeven or ROI for a handful of projects, such as building a branch. Quantifying brand (or name change) ROI is nothing like showing a branch breakeven analysis or an ROI for a $2.0 million freestanding brick and mortar branch investment that is simple to forecast. You can model ROI assumptions of fixed costs, chart predictable growth assumptions, new client growth, deposits and fee income against overhead costs and net interest margin.

Unfortunately, most historical branch ROI methodologies vary widely today in accuracy and true “attribution” (especially as branch transaction volumes are declining annually an average of 3-5%). Branch ROI relies solely on the new branch itself, ignoring direct marketing, staff cross-selling, business development, public relations, events, rate specials or targeted media efforts. Those factors and resources rarely make it into the ROI or break-even calculation of branches.

As your organization faces critical investment scenarios beyond technology alone to evolve and innovate your brand, name or logo to increase relevance to your markets (or targets like younger professional Millennials), consider using ROO in making wise decisions that balance risk against driving sustainable growth, market expansion, cultural focus and enhanced competitive performance. 


Original abbreviated article published here on The Financial Brand.

Mark Weber, CEO, Weber Marketing Group

Mark is a marketing consultant, brand strategist, and data analytics expert. He advises clients on strategic growth and transformational initiatives. He is a national speaker and author, and blogs on brand strategies, business intelligence, and consumer behavior trends. Read Read more...

Comment

Strategic Leadership: The Art & Science of Navigating Digital Transformation

Comment

Strategic Leadership: The Art & Science of Navigating Digital Transformation

Don't miss this invaluable breakout session with Weber Marketing Group's Karen McGaughey, VP Client Services & Principal, and Josh Streufert, Creative Director & Principal, at the 2018 Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas.


Date: Tuesday, May 8th
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: The Cosmopolitan, Mont Royal Room

Success with any digital transformation initiative requires big cultural shifts and a total organizational commitment. That’s where the art of effective leadership and focus pays off. But it also takes the science of a solid data analytics foundation — insights rooted in customer behaviors, people’s preferences, shopping signals, channel usage patterns and product propensity models. In this session, learn how to fuse it all together into one tightly-aligned strategic plan for digital transformation.

What you'll learn:

  • A proven systematic approach to digital transformation

  • Where to get started, and how to drive the digital transformation process forward

  • How to define buyer personas and create a profitable segmentation strategy within your digital strategy

  • How to identify and tackle customer pain points and relevant lifestyle triggers

  • How to make the shift from traditional marketing channels and product campaigns to digital media

  • How to generate digital, video and social media marketing messages that are highly personalized, relevant and measurable

 Karen McGaughey, VP Client Services, Principal

Karen McGaughey, VP Client Services, Principal

 Josh Streufert, Creative Director, Principal

Josh Streufert, Creative Director, Principal


It's not too late to register for the biggest and fastest-growing conference for senior-level executives in banking. Learn more here.

Comment

Johnnie and Jane—the perfect match up or mess up? a 200 year old brand attempts to break through its iconic male image.

Comment

Johnnie and Jane—the perfect match up or mess up? a 200 year old brand attempts to break through its iconic male image.

Passion and purpose inspired Johnnie Walker, a scotch whiskey maker, to introduce “Jane Walker” to its product line—a symbol of its commitment to progress and gender equality. They further backed this talk with a promise to donate $1 to gender equality focused organizations.

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 10.10.39 AM.png

My initial reaction was “that’s pretty cool.” It’s an acknowledgment of women’s accomplishments, plus it’s an attempt to bring more balance to the gender scale (even if it’s just a scotch label). But then skepticism set in, I wondered what took Johnnie Walker so long and why now, after all it has been 200 years. Was it genuine? Or, was it simply a marketing opportunity seized during National Women’s History Month?

It didn’t take long until Johnnie Walker was under fire. Harsh criticism followed their Vice President Stephanie Jacoby’s statement, “Scotch as a category is seen as particularly intimidating by women.” Critics riled against what they interpreted as superiority and patronizing words against all women. Granted, it was a poor choice of words and judgment too—especially by today’s standards. More than ever many women and men are standing together for gender equality. Social activism movements such as #MeToo signify solidarity and strength, and rejects intimidation and abuse imposed on women.

So, how did Johnnie Walker’s VP miss the mark by a mile? In an effort to honor and celebrate women they alienated the audience whose attention they wanted the most. Critical audience segmentation insights were totally absent and created a brand mess. The scotch whiskey maker would have succeeded had they truly understood their audience. How much can a company really know about its target audience if all they have is the audience gender, age, income and geographic location? Not much.

Demographic insights alone limit marketing and brand strategy. Utilizing existing customer data-informed further by lifestyle segmentation with multivariate analyses of consumer attitudes, values, behaviors, perceptions, beliefs and interests provides companies with the deepest and most relevant audience insights. A lifestyle segmentation strategy combined with defined key audience personas would have helped Johnnie Walker accomplish its goal of achieving greater resonance and appeal with not only female non-scotch drinkers, but with women scotch drinkers who currently choose other labels.  

Hats off to Johnnie Walker for the courage and risk they took to adapt and evolve its established brand. The lesson to be learned is not keenly understanding your target audience segments can hurt your brand.

Time will tell if Johnnie and Jane will ever become a perfect match up, right now it resembles more of a mess up.

Comment

My Top Ten Takeaways from #SIC17

Comment

My Top Ten Takeaways from #SIC17

The Seattle Interactive Conference bills itself as “an annual event celebrating the convergence of online technology, creativity, and emerging trends in one of the world’s most innovative cities.” This year, several of my colleagues and I, representatives from both the strategy and creative teams, attended. It was a marathon. It was a sprint. It was two days of engaged learning, lively discussions, high octane coffee and information overload.

Now a couple of weeks later, the mental dust has settled and I can see what things actually stuck with me: what challenged me, what truly inspired me, and on a practical level what made me think about my own work differently on behalf of my clients in the financial industry. So I offer to you my Top Ten Takeaways from #SIC17.

1. Quit calling cooperation collaboration. We all pay lip service to the idea of collaboration when in reality we are simply cooperating with one another in order to get things done or helping to accomplish a task. Collaboration is key for successful brands and organizations, but it means shifting our perspective on what it means to collaborate.  True collaboration occurs when all parties work together, everyone has a voice and opportunity to make a real, active contribution and together shares the responsibility and ownership for the outcome. Collaboration builds this shared knowledge and it’s what allows teams to function without disruption. The analogy presented by Adam Pearson of Substantial was that the larger the number of team members that need to be hit by a bus in order for the project to come to a complete stop is an indicator of the degree of team collaboration.  So when it comes to brand stewardship, is your team collaborating or merely cooperating?

2. By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their brand relationships without human interaction.  The future is not about the device, but the data and what we do with it.  Chat Bots, Intelligent Personal Assistants, Smart Speakers, Intelligent Bots and Augmented Reality are all changing how we interact with data.  Smart brands will access data in real time to make smarter connections with their consumers, but the real opportunities exist in humanizing the data and technology to deliver a better consumer experience. 

3. Use the “Swiss Army knife” of digital advertising to find your audience. No longer is click, share or like the holy grail for Facebook metrics.  Savvy marketers can utilize Facebook to upload and match customer profiles to leverage digital advertising efforts as effectively as possible.  By using retargeting, segmenting lists into types of buyers in order to serve different messages, and remarketing to website users and targeting brand connections to “social engagers” who may have viewed only some of your video.  As marketers, we know that finding your audience is often difficult and expensive. Is your digital strategy taking advantage of the Facebook utility tool? 

4. Building trust is essential.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, and deliver on what you promise. What I love about this lesson is that no amount of data intelligence can buy trust or loyalty from a customer -- trust is earned based on our actions. With all of the access we now have to customer behavior data, it comes down to how we use and apply the data to actions that are authentic and enhance the customer experience with our brand. This is especially true in the financial industry where customer expectations for trusted banking relationships have been rocky and tumultuous in recent years. Now, more than ever, it is critical to deliver on the brand promise.

5. Messenger will use Chat Bots to initiate consumer conversations. In the next 3-5 years, Facebook will be able to serve up an ad, and then start a conversation with a Chat Bot using Messenger.  Facebook can then use the AI gathered from the conversation to incentivize consumers for ongoing conversations that can be continued later.  Of paramount importance will be the ability for the technology (the Chat Bot) to personalize the consumer connection in a way that enhances and adds value to their experience. This will be a game changer for how digital strategies are built and executed. 

6. “I see you” is key to audience connection. Individuals want to be seen and recognized for their authentic self and see that mirrored back to them in advertising.  Companies that can make an emotional connection to their audience by being real, relatable and authentic will build love, trust and brand loyalty. This is the intersection between data and the transparency of how it can be used.

7. The Lesburu:  niche audience marketing not segment exploitation. Subaru was able to build a strong and loyal brand following within the LBGT community because not only did they identify and build a genuine connection with the lesbian audience in their marketing efforts, they aligned their outward actions with their internal culture to create an authentic connection to their audience.  Subaru sponsored events like gay pride parades, partnered with the Rainbow Card, a credit card that instead of cash back offered donations to gay and lesbian causes, offered domestic partnership benefits to their employees and hired Martina Navratilova, a lesbian and former tennis pro, to appear in their ads.  All of these efforts combined created a brand for lesbians around a product that they already loved, but that saw them for who they were & loved them back.

8. The buzz over building brand community. The central premise is to build a sense of affiliation and belonging by identifying with a group of people who become the “community” and building a connection between these groups to create relationships on a deeper level that create brand value.  Airbnb’s Super Host program is a model for this vision of connected relationships. Hosts within Airbnb that meet specific benchmarks are part of the “superhost” community within Airbnb. They have a special community space online to gather for meet-ups and conferences, share a common vision in that they are “passionate about making your trip memorable” and as their community grows and flourishes, the overall business of Airbnb prospers as well.

9. AI is disrupting how we search and get answers. The way in which we interact with our device to get information, research product decisions and/or purchase items is changing with the advances in AI.  AI allows marketers to gain a better understanding of their customers through more natural forms.  Search queries and voice chat is becoming more conversational in nature, i.e. “Show me today’s news” or “Where should I go for breakfast?” Intelligent personal assistants, like Cortano or Alexa, will soon be able to use speech recognition to real-time translate to other languages. Chat bots are being used on mobile devices by companies, like Sephora, to make purchase recommendations.  Intelligent Bots are being taught “skills” to connect voice search with an action. This will enable the bots to ask questions and then take actions on the answers they receive. For example, when you call the insurance company, the bot would recognize the car you drive, can tell you the insurance rate and then access the CRM system to ask additional questions like “would you like your 16-year-old to be added as a driver to your plan?”  With this type of data intelligence, financial institutions will truly be able to tailor and deliver personalized services to their members.

10. Stand up to Stand Out. Yesterday’s chaos is eclipsed by today’s crises, but as consumers, we crave stability and look to brands to give us a purpose to connect with them.  Millennials, in particular, look to align their purchasing behavior with a purpose-driven brand, like Toms or Patagonia. These companies stand up and have a purpose that drives their business.  The driving motivator is not if we should do it, but HOW we do it, and what we do to stand out. 

In today’s big data world, now more than ever, it remains critical for brands to uncover what motivates their customers and find authentic ways to connect and engage with them.  Delivering a better customer experience comes down to how brands use and apply data to build stronger and deeper brand connections.

So while much of our attention is focused on big data and the future of artificial intelligence, at the core of everything is the customer experience. And no matter how you go about using the data and tools available, a strong brand experience is still driven by authentically cultivating relationships based on affinity, purpose and connections. 

Hat tip to the outstanding speakers I got to see, including:

  • Christi Olsen, Microsoft
  • Carrie Jones, CMX
  • Meredith Chase, Swift
  • Christian Folk, Outdoor Research; Alvin Gray, Wahoo Fitness; Laura Swapp, REI
  • Chris Witherspoon & Alan Brown, DNA
  • Melissa Waggener Zorkin, WE Communications
  • MJ DePalma, Microsoft
  • Chris Okroy, Add3
  • Adam Pearson, Substantial
  • Rob Schapiro, Brunner
  • Byan Moffat, National Public Media
  • John Lee, Nordstrom; Jani Strand, Redfin; Pooja Vithlani, Expedia

Lisa Rauliuk is a Sr. Account Manager at Weber Marketing Group. Lisa has over 20 years of experience in marketing and account management. She expertly guides bank and credit unions through naming and branding projects, and integrated marketing campaigns, with her marketing and account management skills. Lisa also facilitates staff brand training programs for clients. 

Comment

Podcast: Targeting Personas for Growth

Comment

Podcast: Targeting Personas for Growth

If your strategic plan includes healthy membership growth and deepening member relationships, this 40 minute conversation will fuel your thinking about what's possible, and provide practical tips for action. 

Comment

Nunulemon: The Reintroduction Of An Old Brand With New Magic

Comment

Nunulemon: The Reintroduction Of An Old Brand With New Magic

Reintroducing the name and brand of a 20-year-old company may seem like an unnecessary task, and if this particular company is widely well-known, some may ask, “what’s the point?” But just like humans and society, brands evolve – and need to in order to stay relevant. So how do you successfully reintroduce your name without losing the long time pillars your company has stood on for years? You take a step back to discover a compelling story you could be sharing but hadn’t realized you had it.

The campaign started with a burning question: What does this moment need that we are most qualified to deliver?
— Duke Stump, EVP of Brand and Community

That is exactly what Lululemon did when they partnered with Virtue, Vice Media’s in-house agency, when they set out to reintroduce their name to the world earlier this year through a global ad campaign. For their first global ad campaign, it was important that the campaign reflected Lululemon’s purpose, values and what they want to stand for in the world moving forward. Together, Lululemon and Vice set out to tell the story that yoga (what Lululemon is known for) is more than just yoga pants, poses and mats – and that Lululemon's brand isn't just for yogis. 

Lululemon believes that the philosophy and practices of yoga influences culture in everyday settings. So instead of focusing on traditional yogis and showing studios with mats laid out and people in poses, the focus is on a diverse group of people who aren’t considered yogis but all have one thing in common – in some way each uses a yoga practice in their life.

For 20 years, this company has been built on how the heartbeat of yoga influences culture.
— Duke Stump, EVP of Brand and Community

Through documentary-style glances into the lives of each character, the main anthem spot demonstrates the inclusivity of yoga. Each character makes up one practice of yoga and, when combined, the group illustrates its philosophy. In the spinoff mini series that completely focus on one of the individuals, the audience sees a glimpse into each practice.  For example, one of the characters is three-time Olympic gold-medal winner Kerrie Walsh Jennings, one of my favorite athletes and one of the reasons this campaign initially grabbed my attention. Her spot focuses on self-discipline and how she practices it on the beach volleyball court by showing up everyday. Or the practice of trust by professional surfer Maddie Peterson, who has to trust the ocean and that it will bring whatever she needs.

The anthem spot and the more focused mini documentaries do the unexpected – take you off the mat to show yoga in all its raw forms and unique environments. Through this approach, Lululemon’s goal is to share how expansive the idea of yoga is along with its accessibility. This will ultimately create a deeper understanding of their brand, purpose and values. 

Today, brand authenticity is more important then ever. And finding it isn’t always easy. On this path of discovery, Lululemon and Vice created a empowering, energetic, and extremely authentic portrait of their brand by sharing how yoga influences culture in ways we might never have recognized before. This global ad campaign is a dramatic way to grab attention for the reintroduction of Lululemon’s name. Through captivating storytelling, the mini series shows how the brand is revolutionizing how we think about yoga & its affect on our culture.

Hi Lululemon, it’s nice to meet you again.

Anthem Spot

mini series

Comment

Free Panel Discussion: The Opportunity in Social Media Advocacy for Credit Unions

Comment

Free Panel Discussion: The Opportunity in Social Media Advocacy for Credit Unions

Charlotte Boutz-Connell, Director of Client Experience at Weber Marketing Group, will participate in a panel discussion and live Q&A on Wednesday, September 27th, at 1:00 pm EST on how credit unions can embrace social media to modernize their advocacy efforts and attract new members.

What the panel will discuss:

  • What advocacy means to credit unions and why it's important.
  • How to reach and attract the next generation of credit union members.
  • Why employees play a critical role in credit union advocacy.

Click below to register for this FREE live session.

Comment

7 keys to selecting the right naming and branding partner

Comment

7 keys to selecting the right naming and branding partner

Changing the name and brand identity of a well-established financial institution may be the most critical strategic decision and enterprise-wide project your organization will ever undertake.

The risks of picking an inexperienced agency for renaming, or attempting it internally, can be staggeringly high on many levels.

Based on our 25 years of naming experience and work on renaming over 65 financial institutions, we have identified the 7 most critical criteria for evaluating and selecting a skilled agency partner as part of a professional name evaluation or successful renaming process.

Submit the form below to request a copy of the position paper "7 Keys to Selecting the Right Naming and Branding Partner."

Name *
Name

 

 

Comment

Broadcasting a Deep Connection

Comment

Broadcasting a Deep Connection

Weber Marketing Group and the Rabobank team collaborated closely on both strategy and execution for this campaign, including the choice to use broadcast television as the flagship for the fully integrated campaign.

Comment

CUES and John Mathes talk Effective Branding Principles

Comment

CUES and John Mathes talk Effective Branding Principles

I was interviewed by CUES in their ongoing CUES Podcast series. In my episode, James Lenz and I talk about identifying your return on marketing objectives, defining exactly what is a brand, and explore the driving forces behind branding, including target audience segmentation. The episode is a great precursor to the CUES Strategic School of Marketing. I hope you’re attending if you’ve never been… and it’s not too late to sign up for this year’s school. Click HERE to find out more about it.

Comment

Pen Air Credit Union respects their past by honoring their future.

Comment

Pen Air Credit Union respects their past by honoring their future.

Regaining control: Helping a thinly stretched credit union reign in and firmly define its identity

When a credit union needs to step outside the boundaries of its historically rooted name to reach new markets where it is not known, how can it still maintain its brand personality, history and sense of local community?

For Northwest Florida’s oldest credit union, Pen Air Federal Credit Union, founded in 1936, this was the struggle they faced in 2014. Despite a 2011 rebranding and new corporate identity (with a four jet logo), the $1.2 billion financial institution was losing members and loan growth was stagnant. But the biggest challenge of all was overcoming the confusing community perceptions of who or what Pen Air was all about.

Stu Ramsey, Pen Air Federal Credit Union CEO, said, “Pen Air was financially successful when I got here and was known in the community, but we weren’t very consistent in our brand, or what our volunteerism looked like. When I talked to staff about who we were, I’d get 350 different answers. There was no clear message for who we were, or where we were going. And when the people in your communities aren’t even aware they can join your credit union, you’ve got a problem.” 

Pam Hatt, Pen Air Federal Credit Union Director of Marketing, said “I talked with Stu about recent ideas I had learned of doing a complete organization-wide ‘transformational rebrand.’ When we looked at our advertising and messaging, we realized there was no personality and no true identity. We were trying to be all things to all people.”

Searching for a strategic branding partner

For Pen Air’s Hatt, their brand selection process started with looking for a skilled partner in the major journey they knew awaited them. Hatt said, “There were many reasons why we selected Weber Marketing Group, even though they were 2,000 miles away in Seattle. In addition to an extensive selection process, we wanted a partner, not a vendor, that had well-documented, successful experience and big results partnering with larger financial institutions. We had learned the hard way a new logo and a ‘look and feel’ did not help our growth challenges. We needed someone to take a hard look at our challenges, our confusing market image: and connect the dots with research, staff  engagement, robust brand and cultural processes, and really be a true partner on this journey.” Pen Air hired Weber Marketing in hopes of reviving its dwindling brand.

Focusing in on the right target

With a diverse target market in the surrounding Pensacola, FL and Mobile, AL communities, Pen Air was struggling to define exactly who they wanted to reach through their marketing efforts that would be attracted to a credit union.

The steady loss of members and brand confusion was outweighing the need to simply appeal to a younger millennial audience. With a dated military style logo and little expression of any brand personality or internal culture, Pen Air desperately needed to find their focus ahead.

We were trying to be all things to all people.
— Pam Hatt, Director of Marketing, Pen Air FCU

What's in a name?

The first focus of the rebrand discovery process included a combination of quantitative and qualitative market research to uncover their name and brand equity both internally and externally. Weber Marketing engaged the entire staff through internal focus groups and stakeholder surveys to first to uncover perceptions, attitudes and feelings towards Pen Air’s brand, culture, operations and member experiences. Secondly, the Weber team helped identify which brand differences should be evolved to the next level. Following internal research, Weber then partnered with Goldman Consulting & Strategy to determine the credit union’s external market brand and name equity – and challenges, including the organization’s name awareness and reputation.

The research provided valuable feedback on the confusing perceptions of Pen Air’s military focus, which had shifted years earlier to a community charter. Yet this caused even more confusion for who could join. Ramsey noted, “Our heart & soul were rooted in the military and yet only 10% of our membership fit that demographic. People saw our jet fighter logo and assumed you either had to be military, or had to work for an airline.”

Research revealed that the Pen Air name held positive historical significance and positive impact on local communities. Yet, most local residents were totally unaware of their eligibility for membership. By combining the internal and external research and building a new brand strategy for the future, Weber Marketing determined that a new brand with the existing name would help build upon this rich history. But the Pen Air logo with four flying jets tested poorly among all audiences and needed serious modernization to avoid market confusion.

Establishing brand focus and clarity from the inside out

Internally, the Pen Air brand had no focus, brand promise or cohesive storytelling for staff  to rally behind. “We knew no matter what we did on the outside, it wasn’t going to be successful on the inside without a strong brand culture.” said Ramsey.

Following the brand workshops, sta surveys and focus groups, the focus became to define a new brand promise, personality and a set of brand actions that everyone could rally around. “During the whole process, a word kept coming up. We were hearing it from everyone inside and outside the organization. With the Weber team’s guidance, “Respect” became the foundation of our brand essence,” said Hatt.

The brand essence was then fused into a new internal brand promise: ‘We Promise to Respect and Value the Trust You Place in Us.’ Weber Marketing then built a brand identity, personality and key themes that would resonate with the newly defined target audience and be something the Pen Air staff  could proudly share.

It wasn’t going to be successful on the inside without a strong brand culture.
— Stu Ramsey, CEO, Pen Air FCU
 A colorful, eye-catching billboard speaks to Pen Air's focus on doing what's best for their members.

A colorful, eye-catching billboard speaks to Pen Air's focus on doing what's best for their members.

 A brand wall prominently features Pen Air's brand promise in all branches.

A brand wall prominently features Pen Air's brand promise in all branches.

Aligning the missing pieces 

In order to facilitate growth and promote increased member loyalty, Weber Marketing helped align all aspects of the new credit union brand around an immersive member experience that could be implemented across all channels and messaging. This platform was tightly integrated into a revamped mission, core values, and vision.

A new logo was designed to better reflect the diverse, but tightly connected markets around Pen Air. The new logo pays a natural, yet mild tribute to the history and heritage connection to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, while becoming more contemporary. For those in the community, it defines Pen Air’s “shared circle of commitment.” Everyone helping each other, out of trust and respect to make good happen in other people’s lives, both internally and externally. The different colors of the logo pay homage to the diversity of families, ethnic cultures and communities throughout the Pensacola area.

From an innovative brand experience to a new brand essence, Weber Marketing was reconstructing a bold new identity for Pen Air, helping differentiate the credit union from the competition from top to bottom. The credit union was slowly beginning to find its unique personality and reclaim its unique position in the market. 

 Logo Before

Logo Before

 Logo After

Logo After

"Blending out"

An organizational mantra of ‘Blending Out’ became the new counter-cultural status quo for the credit union. This meant creating bold and distinctive new marketing materials and bringing the credit union’s new identity and personality, as well as transforming internally through staff  interactions with members and each other. It meant living out boldly and publicly their commitment to improve the community around them. 

The new brand is focused on the importance of living out the four pillars of the credit union through their brand actions:

  1. Serve First: Members and our co- workers come first, plain and simple.
  2. Solution Seekers: We value innovation and creativity.
  3. Communerosity: Generosity and a sense of community are two qualities we value highly and why together they become our volunteer rallying cry of Communerosity!
  4. ProKnows: We are dependable, honest, professional and knowledgeable. 

Out of these pillars, one in particular stood out to be more deeply embraced as a true distinctive action: Communerosity.

Pen Air's TV spots showcase their values with authentic moments featuring real members from the Pensacola community.

When credit union values and community collide

What is Communerosity? Pen Air created the idea out of a desire to serve its community with a bold heart of generosity. The idea had existed within the organization for quite some time but just needed to be named. It was coined by a Pen Air employee during an employee ‘brandstorming’ session. Hatt, the driving force behind the program, began to see “a huge employee groundswell in the Communerosity arena following the rebrand. Our team has really bought into this idea and everyone has been jumping on board,” she said, “we are seeing positive cultural momentum in the right direction.”

Following the launch of the program, the credit union saw sta volunteer activity increase in the community by 78%. The reflection of their values and actions in the community solidified the importance of firmly defined principles guiding the foundation of respect on which the newly articulated brand was built.

And with this renewed focus, the new brand was almost ready to launch to market. There was only one hurdle to overcome. How does everyone — 350 staff, the leadership team, and volunteers — get on board with living out the new brand?

We invite them to Brand Camp! 

Camp isn't just for kids

The Pen Air staff  was engaged in a full-day brand learning workshop led by Weber Marketing Group to learn how to live
the brand with consistent actions and behaviors at work, with members, and out in the community with confidence and consistency.

It’s not often people have a special story to answer the question ‘Why join our credit union?’ When you can connect a relevant story to the “why” question, you’ve gained a true and lasting competitive advantage.

“Brand Camp is much more than a brand reveal party to show o your new look and feel, said Randy Schultz, VP Marketing at Weber, “It’s the first time many employees are seeing the new logo, colors, website. But more importantly, they are learning new skills and behaviors to better interact consistently with members and each other with shared key messages, fresh ideas, rich storytelling and renewed passion.”

As part of a team building brand exercise, the staff  built 50 kids bicycles together. Their surprise later that day was that it wasn’t just an exercise: 50 kids rushed in from the local Boys and Girls Club for a group photo with Pen Air staff  as they presented the bikes to the kids live.

“Needless to say, there were a lot of joyful tears as they realized they got to be part of a real experience of Communerosity,” Hatt stated. Almost a year later our staff  still talk about that day. It’s such a great example now when people ask them ‘Why should I join Pen Air?”

“I can’t reiterate enough how you want to time this brand rollout and not just rush through the process,” said Ramsey. “We knew it would be important not just for our staff  to go through the Brand Camp training, but give their own input as to how we were going to live it, communicate it, and what we were going to do everyday for our members and our internal employees to experience our brand.”

 Staff present bikes they hand built to kids from the local Boys and Girls Club.

Staff present bikes they hand built to kids from the local Boys and Girls Club.

Creating new brand experiences

Once the staff  was ready to live out the new Pen Air brand, the next step was rolling the brand consistently across an outdated and widespread 15-branch network. Weber Marketing created a unique and distinctive branch merchandising system and new digital technology displays to communicate the new brand values, messaging and product solutions, while totally differentiating the new Pen Air brand experience.

Weber designed a bold new Community Wall to actively engage members in sharing what they think would make their local community a better place to live. This direct member feedback gives Pen Air authentic examples of how they are affecting their members’ lives and their communities positively. The cards also o en give members a chance to voice what they think the credit union could do better.

Hatt said, “We have learned through this process that our members are really our best brand storytellers. The community wall ensures their voices are heard and acted on.”

The proof is in the numbers

Following several years of stagnant market growth, the results and bottom line impact of this enterprise-wide brand transformation at Pen Air has been staggering across the board. In the first year following the brand rollout, the impacts of the brand investment have led to the most dramatic growth in the credit union’s history:

  • 22.30% growth in total loans
  • 20.00% increase in Mortgage & HELOC loans
  • 27.48% increase in Consumer Loans
  • 11%+ growth in mobile banking, eStatements, and bill pay users
  • 0.83% growth in new membership • 3.19% increase in overall assets

With a goal to attract a tech-savvy and younger millennial target, Pen Air’s Social Media Initiative was born and communicated so that staff  and member involvement in the community did not go unnoticed. In addition to the new branding and a robust responsive website upgrade, the social program helped grab the attention of many: Google Analytics results showed a 100%+ increase in web traffic a year a er the brand launch.

What comes next?

Every aspect of the Pen Air brand was transformed and integrated culturally and operationally in order to live the mantra of “standing out,” not blending in. This was vital to fully reshape community perceptions of who Pen Air is, what they stand for amidst a sea of aggressive financial competitors, and why people should join.

The Pen Air rebranding successes and huge results did not go unnoticed in the financial and advertising industry either. Pen Air received four Addy Awards including Brand Story, Brand Web Ads, :30 Auto TV spot and Brand Integrated Campaign. The brand program also earned national attention earning four CUNA Diamond Awards and four MAC Awards.

“The management team learned the initiative was about much more than their brand identity, website or a new logo. This transformational brand process revitalized the Pen Air business model enterprise- wide, as any viable strategic branding initiative should,” Schultz added. “Creating transformation that drives bottom-line results is a journey of continuous improvement. And this first wave looks incredibly promising.” 

Comment

Redwood Credit Union feels the love.

Comment

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. 

Comment

Arkansas Federal Credit Union is building community by getting everyone onboard.

Comment

Arkansas Federal Credit Union is building community by getting everyone onboard.

With a new brand, and focus, AFCU is ready to share their success story.

AFCU was looking for a way to engage their current members and spur growth in their community, so we developed a launch campaign to connect with both. With smart financial tools and guidance built for their community, AFCU is ready to get to work. 


“Handle Bars”

Objective: AFCU offers great lending options to help you find success at whatever you set out to do. This 30 second commercial spotlights how AFCU helps members reach their goals with affordable, flexible financing.


“Cones”

Objective: AFCU is dedicated to helping their community thrive—and they love to show it. This 30 second commercial highlights AFCU’s values and their continued commitment to their community and members. 

Comment

Consumer research insights steer 102-year-old Workers Credit Union into a brand transformation while keeping their name intact.

Comment

Consumer research insights steer 102-year-old Workers Credit Union into a brand transformation while keeping their name intact.

When your credit union’s logo conjures up associations with Waste Management, the trash people, you know you may be in need of a brand makeover.

Actually, the senior leadership team at $1.4 billion Workers Credit Union (WCU) in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, already knew they were due for a brand refresh. They just didn’t know how far and wide they should take the 100-year-old brand or name. In fact, they didn’t really even know how to get started. So, they called in financial brand experts Weber Marketing Group of Seattle, WA to get a fresh perspective, research and an assessment on the state of their brand and name equity.

WMG launched a multi-prong, 360-degree view and evaluation of WCU’s name, brand, marketing, advertising, digital and retail experiences. This evaluation provided WCU with enough strategic data to make what is arguably every organizations most important decision: the direction, care, handling and guidance of their brand, name and logo in order to remain relevant, appealing, motivating and differentiated in the commoditized world of financial services retailing.

Engaging all stakeholders on a journey of brand equity discovery.

Members, non-members, employees, senior leadership team and the board of directors were all engaged to provide a meaningful articulation of varying brand, name, cultural and member experience perceptions. Each provided their perspective on how WCU was perceived in the marketplace and how well they were delivering on products, service, access, advice and helping members manage their money.

For the most part, Workers received high marks. WCU was seen as a great value and a trusted place for people’s financial needs. After all, you don’t grow into a $1.4 billion credit union without delivering what members want. Yet there were several key areas where the brand experience and image was not as effective as it could be.

The comprehensive brand audit examined every facet of marketing and provided observations and recommendations. Advertising messages, collateral, point-of-sale communication, digital, mobile and retail merchandising channels were all analyzed and presented in a detailed “State of the Brand” report.  This assessment report, combined with the learning from external and internal market research, became the ultimate decision tool that the senior leadership and the board needed to help them make the right brand, name and marketing choices moving forward.

Is a name change the lever of repositioning needed...or a mistake?

Before the engagement, many of Worker’s internal stakeholders and decision makers felt a name change was badly needed. Often credit union industry names are tied 50+ years of past history or former legacy sponsor organizations. Many younger consumers are often confused by even the concept of what a credit union is.

In the case of Workers Credit Union, research showed the name compounded the confusion in the marketplace and provided some barriers to soliciting new member growth. Workers Credit Union. Those three words: all contained some confusing or even negative connotations among non-members. It was a formula for a name change, right? Well, not so fast.

The voice of the consumer needed to be included in this conversation. Through an array of market focus groups, results found members loved their credit union name. Not surprisingly, they didn’t want it to change. Non-member prospects were also well aware of Workers credit union -- and thought highly of its reputation. Everyone was aware of some of their highly popular programs like “Give Back,” where Workers shares a cash dividend once a year with members. Workers was at the top of their game - and the name did not prove to be a major barrier to joining. 

Will expansion into new markets create brand confusion?

Workers Credit Union wanted to expand into the western fringes of the Boston metropolitan area: a region where they have low awareness and no branch presence. How would the Workers name and brand play there? The success of their expansion would hinge on attracting new members in a Boston commuter land that was predominantly Mass Affluent: with advanced degrees, high-tech jobs, dual incomes and high discretionary spending. Would they be attracted to an organization with a name as basic and potentially blue-collar sounding as Workers Credit Union?

As it turns out, research revealed, yes they would. The name resonated with many because everyone is a worker – unless you were born with a silver spoon or you won the lottery. The name was not a barrier and in fact had some character. It’s a real word, but it’s also one that is hard to trademark and protect.

The problem consumers revealed was not the name. It was the dated brand image, messaging and style. It was old, stodgy and unappealing. Remember the trash company logo reference? People didn’t give the credit union a second thought because the logo and marketing looked dated, uninviting and “not relevant to them”. The brand was in need of a total identity transformation if it hoped to appeal to this wider audience of potential members: especially more affluent ones.

The brand team at Weber recommended Workers CU retain its name, surprising management and the board. Well, mostly. WMG did recommend that Workers drop the confusing apostrophe (it was originally spelled Workers’) for the plural version of a worker… Workers Credit Union.  This was to even further communicate an emotional connection that it was for every worker. The apostrophe suggested, “a credit union belonging to workers”. Without it, it became “ a credit union of and for workers”. The apostrophe also created confusion and SEO challenges in WCU’s website URL.

The first step in the identity journey was to update the logo, mark and color palette (from Waste Management’s green and yellow), to an arresting blue and orange, unique among their financial competitors. A striking logo mark was developed with a stylized “W” anchoring a brush stroke symbol with three vertical components. The goal of the new icon was to make sure it translated well across all online, mobile and digital screen devices.

Concurrently with the logo redesign, the crafting of the strategic Brand Platform was underway. It’s the engine that drives the credit union towards consistency and a common language and focus. WCU’s brand was distilled down to “high performance banking,” and this essence became the compass of its brand differentiator. From the research and high Net Promoter Scores, it was clear they needed to lean deeper into their relationship pricing value proposition even deeper in their brand messaging.

The new brand essence of “high performance” was further defined with the new brand promise: “We’ll work hard for your financial success.” This promise was culled from member research and high loyalty member comments like this:

“I rate them a 10 due to low fees/no fees, good rates on checking and their cash back program. All my accounts are now with Workers because they outperform all my other accounts at other banks.” 

With a well-defined new brand platform, and a bold new logo and identity package, it was time to design the new brand identity and look & feel. WMG’s bold visual and tone of voice concepts gave the high performance banking it’s distinctive personality and style that now appeals to their mass affluent targets. The brand promise of “We’ll work hard for your financial success,” combined with their name Workers, was translated into a memorable, external brand tagline of simply: “Banking that works.”

When the new identity was unveiled in mid-2016, CEO Doug Peterson remarked, “this change isn’t just about logo or colors… it is much more. We have a strong history of providing a great value for our members and this is about making that commitment and experience clear, simple and appealing.”

The Weber Marketing retail team helped audit, renovate and update their 14 branches to reflect the brand program and bold new identity. New signage, brand paint colors and a robust interior messaging and merchandising system richly expresses the brand image in a fresh, and consistent new experience. The brand has now come to life and clearly differentiates Workers from their bank competitors.

Chief Operating Officer Sandra Sagehorn-Elliot said the branch changes are to “modernize” the credit union so that its image “matches what we provide in terms of value, energy and high performance experiences to our members.” Other member touchpoints were rebranded, including launching Apple Pay, new smartwatch apps and a refreshed mobile app to simplify members’ financial lives.

Although Weber Marketing has successfully renamed over 65 financial institutions, the Workers CU story shows why retaining a name with solid equity and rebranding the image and experiences can be just as powerful a growth strategy. 

“The key to brand and name decisions, is to involve the voice of the consumer,” says John Mathes, Director of Brand Strategy for WMG. “Sometimes a name change is clearly called for. But when you have a strong, viable and protectable name, it suggests diving deeper into the reasons your brand is confused or not yet well-articulated, that’s stifling growth goals. Evaluating changing the name of an organization requires careful examination of your equity, growth strategies and as many strategic data points as possible.”

“Weber’s logical and pragmatic approach to brand development made so much sense to everyone, even the non-marketing people which is so important to making it successful,” said John Doyle, SVP/Retail Services at Workers Credit Union. “Their guidance was immeasurable to keep me and the entire brand team on track and committed to making this transition happen.”

Comment