Even Branches Can Be Bloggers

Mazuma is fostering a relationship between a new branch location and its members a year before the physical building exists.


What do Suri Cruise and the upcoming Mazuma Credit Union headquarters building have in common? For starters, they’ve both become successful bloggers despite challenges such as a lack of developed verbal skills, an inability to personally access the Internet and, in the case of the branch, being an as-yet un-built inanimate object.

When Mazuma Credit Union ($495.3M, Kansas City, MO) decided to expand and relocate its headquarters, CEO Brandon Michaels saw an opportunity to become a truly metropolitan-wide organization while finding a home for the credit union’s growing staff. Instead of re-creating a standard branch in a new, larger location, Michaels decided to create a space that would serve members, give back to the community, and make banking a bit more fun.

“Increasing membership across the metropolitan area has a direct impact on our branches and their capabilities,” Michaels says. “Although we knew we needed to find a new headquarters, it was of paramount importance that we combine it with a new branch office to support current and future member needs.”

In addition to serving its 53,000 members in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the new headquarters and branch needed to provide an appealing workspace that would promote efficiency and innovation among Mazuma’s 185 employees. The architect on the project, Praxis 3, remained true to these parameters when planning the three-story, 60,000-square-foot location that is set to house the branch as well as most of the Mazuma management staff, the call center, and departments such as e-services, IT, and training and development.

The new building will make use of open space and features a three-story atrium. Staffers will have access to a fitness area, a coffee bar, and several work areas decorated with themes like “robot,” “beach” and “wave.”  There will also be a 200-person Community Room that is open to the public. Members will have access to a full branch office with drive-up service and dialogue towers in lieu of the traditional teller window.

“Dialogue towers remove the traditional teller window barriers between members and member representatives,” Michaels says. “This allows for more personalized and efficient service.”

Credit union leaders finalized the floor plans roughly a year after initially discussing building a new headquarters. The next question it had to address was how to promote the exciting new features while maintaining the spirit of Mazuma’s “fun banking” brand.To promote the expansion, the marketing team and Brand Manager Andy Dickhut crafted a plan that included general marketing collateral as well as a blog,  www.MazumaHQ.com, that allowed the special branch to speak for itself.

Launched in April of 2013, “a blog about the new HQ building, by the new HQ building,” includes posts from MazumaHQ, guest posts from people involved with the new site, and mock-ups with pictures of the new headquarters. The blog provides an open forum for members, community members, and staff to comment on posts, contribute their views on the branch, and suggest new ideas. Although there is plenty of relevant information about the new headquarters, at times the blog more closely resembles a personal Facebook account than a corporate marketing campaign.

Through MazumaHQ.com, the building has developed its own personality, complete with opinions on its features, best qualities, and upcoming events. Every post written by MazumaHQ includes personal comments and fun facts disguised as quirky opinions. MazumaHQ shares everything from status updates such as, “… right now, I’m just a pile of dirt and land. But by the time the fall of 2014 rolls around, I’ll transform into a magnificent three-story, 60,000-square-foot building. Optimus Prime’s got nothing on me …” to descriptions of new features, including, “I’ve got that little extra sumptin’ sumptin’: I’m a state-of-the-art Mazuma branch that re-imagines the banking experience for the 21st century. I’m a great place for great financial solutions that’ll leave a smile on your face … . Grab anything you like in my new break room: grub, coffee, soda. Just don’t grab another Mazuman. They taste awful.”

Details about the planned community room are available in a general “About Me” section: “I’m community-oriented: Credit Unions are all about community, and my new community room personifies how much I care about ours. This high-tech, audiovisual-equipped community room is capable of hosting anything from a small meeting to a large 200-person gathering for employees, members, or the community-at-large. Like a really sweet tattoo, this room will showcase murals of the unique entertainment heritage of Kansas City. Welcome to Paris on the Plains, folks.”

The new branch appears to be proud of its new look, and members, staff, and community residents should be, too. The blog includes several photos of the new facility with the disclaimer: “All right, normally I wouldn’t do this, but you seem pretty cool, so I’m gonna put down my walls (figuratively speaking) and let you in on some VIP access. Think you can handle it? Then feast your eyes on the phenomenon that is ME!”

For its groundbreaking, MazumaHQ posted: “There were shovels, some awesome lookin’ hard hats, and a giant rendering of what I’ll look like when I’m finished. (I lobbied for a statue, but this’ll do.) It was a hot summer morning, but that didn’t stop tons of people from showing up. And they were all there to see me! Except for maybe, like, one random dude. He was totally there for the free Chick-fil-A breakfast. I don’t blame him, it was quite yummy.”

In addition to providing construction updates while staying true to the lighthearted Mazuma brand, the blog serves as an outlet for members, staff, and community residents to ask questions and make their voices heard via the comment section of each post. MazumaHQ.com is a casual-yet-legitimate forum for concerned citizens to express grievances. For example, several members have asked why the credit union didn't allocate the funds for this new branch to member dividends instead. Some members have questioned whether the move is motivated by possible tax breaks or other monetary incentives — the headquarters is moving from Missouri to Kansas — and some Missouri members wanted to know when they could expect new branches to open on their side of the state line. Through MazumaHQ.com, credit union representatives quickly provided thorough responses while keeping the spirit of the conversation positive and open. As a cooperatively owned institution, Mazuma knows transparency is vital to preserving the member-owner relationship that makes credit unions stand out as financial institutions.

As long as the Mazuma marketing team can craft new content, the blog will continue to stay relevant and serve as a cost-effective way to introduce the credit union to new members and expand current relationships. MazumaHQ intends to keep blogging through construction and into the grand opening set for fall 2014. The credit union has introduced a livestream video so interested parties can watch construction progress 24/7. Traditional marketing collateral will support blog content, and the credit union will also post updates to its flagship website — Mazuma.org.

“We’ve had a lot of fun developing the Mazuma HQ personality and blogging from this unique perspective,” said Dickhut, “However, we view MazumaHQ.com as part of a cohesive strategy, not just a standalone website. It’s meant to keep our Members informed and invite them to start a dialogue with us. We want to hear from our Members whether that be on the blog, on the phone or in our branches. We pride ourselves on offering multiple avenues of access to Mazumans.”