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Themed Branches to Target Millennials


Credit unions NEED Millennials. But, Millennials don’t trust or really care about banking. And, as credit unions, our best advantage is our tie to their community.

It’s also true that, while some may be bigger or cleaner or more “modern”, in the end, a credit union or bank branch is just a branch.

So, if you need Millennials, feel you have a bland brand, believe that you are truly vital to your community, are tired of looking and acting like every other darn credit union and bank in your market, and you have the guts … here’s an idea.

Themed Branches!

There are themed hotels and restaurants, but I’m not aware of any themed financial branches.

What if…

  • A credit union in Cleveland, near the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, decorated in rock memorabilia, played rock music and let their staff dress in jeans and leather jackets? What if they celebrated the anniversaries of great achievements in Rock? And had a small stage set up where people could take selfies as rock stars. (Imagine how this could be tweaked for Nashville or the Hollywood Walk of Fame)
  • A military credit union decorated their branches to look like an armed forces museum with plane parts and models and posters detailing key military battles? What if the staff wore flight suits? Or had a mock-cockpit where people could post selfies as a fighter pilot.
  • My town of Xenia, Ohio claims to be the “Bicycle Capital of the Midwest.” What if a credit union here decorated in bikes and provided maps online of the local bike paths? What if they invested in a new bike path being built or improved? What if people could take a selfie on one of those pre-1900s bikes with the giant front tire – would they post it? (But, no dressing the staff in bike shorts! Sorry, but that’s just weird! Logoed bike jerseys are perfectly OK, however.)

There are a few rules if you’re going to theme your branches:

  • The theme must speak to something unique to your community (and preferably to your specific target audience)
  • The themes can be different from branch to branch depending on the size of your footprint.
  • You need to have fun with it! You be must willing to go a bit over-the-top.
  • The experience should be interactive.
  • You need to consider all five human senses when planning how you’ll execute your theme. The more senses you engage the better.
  • Completely own your theme. It goes beyond decorations, music and dress code. It should be able to create unique events and new opportunities for community involvement.
  • Everything that you choose to do must have the result of getting members to say, “Did you see what this branch is doing?!? How frickin’ cool!!!”

Millennials are changing banking, just like they’re changing most everything else. But they will always have a need to borrow money, put money safely aside and access their money … they will always need credit unions. As you look to how you will evolve to keep up, remember, with Millennials:

  • They want to engage with brands on social networks
  • They are brand loyal
  • They’ll engage with brands that support what they believe in (hobbies, politics, whatever)
  • They do not, necessarily, want traditional models
  • They expect brands to give back to society
  • They are using multiple tech devices (between 2-3 devices daily)
  • They want to co-create products and services and to be a part of building your company to fit their needs
  • Being “cool” and “sexy” matters.

So, there it is … the big idea that will change credit unions. If it’s you, please let me know all the fun stuff that you do. If you’re a Millennial, please let me know what you think of a themed branch. If you’re already doing this, please share!

Eric Gagliano is a leading credit union marketer with more than 20 years of marketing experience. As Executive Vice  President at MarketMatch, Eric helps to guide credit unions with focused marketing strategy designed to generate  momentum and yield proven results with an ROI Guarantee


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