BY RANDI MARMER
In a highly competitive and saturated market, financial institutions often look for ways to distinguish themselves from the competition. When TruMark Financial® Credit Union, one of the strongest, most progressive credit unions in Southeastern Pennsylvania set out to create a branding initiative, its mission was to do just that — distinguish itself from the competition.
Founded in 1939, TruMark Financial is headquartered in Fort Washington, Pa., and has approximately $2 billion in assets through its 22 branches, Member Service Center, and a suite of innovative online and mobile banking services.Offering a full range of banking, investing, and insurance services to more than 115,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania the credit union receives high praise from its members on member surveys.
TruMark Financial was performing well, member satisfaction was high, and the business was growing. Despite that, management realized there were so many people living within the credit union’s footprint that were unaware of the financial services and benefits it offered. The branding initiated presented an opportunity to heighten awareness.
TruMark Financial hired branding experts,Van Deusen & Levitt Associates (VDLA), to conduct employee interviews, member focus groups, and an Emotional Brand Analysis®(EBA) – a proprietary quantitative research technique that uncovers emotional and rational factors that drive member behavior. Thirty-two distinct brand attributes were identified and then measured against actual marketplace performance to quantify how each attribute could impact members and the organization.
EBA® Analysis revealed TruMark Financial already had a very specific emotional brand advantage over competitors that could be used to effectively attract new members. Using this insight, the credit union marketing team worked with VDLAand developed a new brand positioning, target audience profile, and a simple yet powerful brand promise: “Member banking is better banking®.” The advantage the credit union had was it already possessed the emotional brand among its members. The components were already in place. The next step was to design a strategic plan to communicate the message through the media and other delivery channels.
The new branding initiative aligns with the credit union’s member-focused philosophy and aims to strengthen the credit union’s visibility in Southeastern Pennsylvania.Everyone knows membership has its privileges and “Member banking is better banking®” captures the theme of the initiative, said Elizabeth Kaspern, TruMark Financial’s senior vice-president, chief retail services officer.
“Consumers that bank with TruMark Financial are more than customers, they are members,” said Kaspern. The frontline staff addresses members by name; they are not just an account number. The branding initiative communicates what it means to belong to a credit union and the benefits that come along with membership. Delivery channels to heighten awareness include television and radio commercials, billboards, and an updated easy-to-navigate website. The branding initiative reaffirms the credit union’s commitment to its members. Humor and a catchy tune set the commercials apart from the usual financial institutions’ messages and boast TruMark Financial not only likes a little competition but offers better products than its competitors.
The credit union’s senior management team views the branding effort as a way to stand apart from the competition and better reflect the value the credit union provides to its members. “It’s an opportunity to educate consumers about the credit union, its purpose, its visionary goals, and the benefits of membership,” said Richard F. Stipa, TruMark Financial’s chief executive officer.
Working with supervisors and team leaders at TruMark Financial, VDLA also created a comprehensive brand training curriculum to ensure that all employees could easily and consistently live the new brand promise every day, with every member.
At every member touch point, TruMark Financial uses its emotional brand advantage to attract new members, deepen existing relationships, and inspire employees to outperform.
The management team realized the employees had to be engaged before rolling out the brand to the public. To create excitement and increase engagement among employees, the marketing team created posters that were displayedon easels on each floor at its headquarters as well as in the branch work rooms. One message said, “Watch for the commercials on April 2.” Another said “Member banking is better banking®.” Before longemployees found themselves walking around saying “Member banking is better banking®,” embracing the branding initiative.
On April 2, the brand initiative was officially introduced. At 6:30 a.m. bright-eyed and full of enthusiasm, the senior management team greeted the first employee as she entered the building and offered hera sweet treat. Each employee was personally greeted and the stage was set for the rest of the day. “Member banking is better banking” resonated throughout the building as employees donned their new TruMark Financial polo shirts with “Member banking is better banking®” embroidered on the sleeve.
When employees turned on their computers, the portal page displayed a graphic with the message, “Our enduring idea: Member banking.”There was a wave of excitement in the air throughout the day as employees talked about the radio and the television commercials they heard and saw as they got ready for work that morning.
To keep the momentum and enthusiasm going, front-line employees in TruMarkFinancial’s 22 branches distributed slices of cake decorated with the message “Member banking is better banking®.”Members happily shared in the celebration and expressed their appreciation for the credit union’s continued commitment.
In conjunction with the branding initiative to increase visibility, the credit union continues to support its community partners and consumers in Southeastern Pennsylvania, demonstrating the credit union philosophy, “People Helping People.” Some of the community outreach projects the credit union has sponsored include a clothing drive for women returning to the workplace, a book collection for school-aged students, and a food drive for local pantries.
As the credit union continues to thrive, it’s important its members realize “Member banking is better banking®” because the member belongs to a financial not-for-profit cooperative. TruMark Financial continues to grow and has become one of the most progressive credit unions in the country where its employees live the brand and “Member banking is better banking®“resonates.
Please note: Click here to view the television commercials: www.trumark.com/better
Randi Marmer is the Assistant Vice President of Public Relations at TruMark Financial® Credit Union in fort Washington, Pa. A seasoned communications and marketing professional, she has more than 25 years of experience in the credit union industry.