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“Branding the Credit Union Difference” Op-ed

BY DOUGLAS AGUIAR

Conveying the “credit union difference” helps credit unions stand apart from other financial institutions. But the message often gets lost in translation. Discover how one CU propelled a very successful “Stronger Together” campaign into significant increase in both brand awareness and membership.

1In the crowded financial industry, the “credit union difference” can sometimes get lost. An August 2016 TransUnion study shows, however, that credit union membership is growing at a faster rate than other financial institutions are experiencing. Golden 1 Credit Union (Golden 1) believes when consumers understand the credit union difference, membership grows.

Recognizing the gap in consumer awareness, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) recently launched an awareness initiative to provide credit unions around the country with resources to effectively communicate to potential members. At Golden 1, emphasizing the credit union difference is the core of the CU’s marketing strategy and the foundation for its messaging and communications, and the credit union is seeing results.

Prior to 2013, Golden 1’s marketing campaigns focused on traditional marketing through branch promotions and print advertising, and they often emphasized products and rewards. This approach was limiting because it failed to include the most important and persuasive appeal to consumers – that Golden 1 and all credit unions put members first. To define this focus, Golden 1 launched the “Stronger Together” marketing campaign in 2013 with the aim of highlighting the credit union difference as a key competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Before developing a new narrative for Golden 1’s advertising campaigns, the CU sought to learn as much as possible about consumers’ financial needs, including members and non-members alike. Through a series of intimate one-on-one interviews in restaurants, coffee shops and parks across California, the credit union asked people what they value in their banking relationship.


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