Six Key Branding Concepts

Read six key concepts and commentary from a marketing credit union professional that demystify how to build a great credit union brand.

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How do you build a great credit union brand? Among all of the research and “magic” branding formulas I came across, a simple, no nonsense book entitled, “A Clear Eye for Branding,” by Tom Asacker spoke to me the most. Through a dialogue between himself and a fellow passenger on an airplane, he demystified branding through his key concepts that are bolded below.

I also recently had the privilege of talking with Wendy Cleveland, vice president of marketing/business development at AltaOne Federal Credit Union ($460M in Ridgecrest, CA) about branding.

In an effort to share both Asacker’s and Cleveland’s main points, I mimicked the author’s unique dialogue writing style. I invite you to read their thoughts and react with your own below.

A Brand is NOT a Logo
Asacker: “The logo didn't cause people to become loyal to it. Everything else did.”
Cleveland: “AltaOne’s brand is every impression that an individual has about the organization. Everything they see, touch, feel, hear and even smell makes up our brand.”
Marketing is NOT a Place
Asacker: “Marketing is not a function. It’s a philosophy. A philosophy of how to connect with your audience.”
Cleveland: “It all starts from the top. We strongly believe we are a member-centric organization. We make the brand living and breathing, communicate it and hold people accountable to it.”
A Mission is NOT a strategy
Asacker: “Teach people how the brand helps people and how they make up the brand.”
Cleveland: “Staff are the face of the credit union. They are the brand. We hire individuals with aptitude for service and who genuinely care about the members.”
Positioning is Passe
Asacker: “It doesn’t matter what customers think or feel about you or your brand. What matters is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions in your brand presence.”
Cleveland: “Actions speak louder than words.”
Brand Loyalty Never Was
Asacker: “Great Branding is about a mature love. People won’t believe you if you tell them they can trust you. They must intuit that trust, from your communications and actions.”
Cleveland: “We measure both internally and externally our service levels. Compared to banks and other credit unions, we consistently are graded extraordinarily higher and constantly strive to exceed expectations.”
Innovation is Key
Asacker: “Branding is a dance. Tickle their minds and hearts. Don’t smother them to death.”
Cleveland: “Create opportunities to tell the community that you’re different.”



June 19, 2006


  • I liked the way you presented the Branding topic. Very creative method. Easy to follow and relate to. I appreciated the book review. I love it when authors of articles mention books they consider a valuable resource. I read book reviews and wish there wre more of them. Thousands of books are published each year making it difficult to choose those we would find most beneficial. Another quick read on the topic of Branding is titled The Branding Gap. Neat presentation of thought provoking ideas. And the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al Ries is also very good.....and doesn't drown with wordiness.
    Jane Anderson
  • I love the post!!! Too often "experts" focus on logo, color and tag line when speaking about branding. The brand is the consistent experience. You're right, branding is not magic ... but it IS a science. A successful, effective brand most be driven and created by the marketplace (current and potential members) - not by management's preconceived ideas or a board's "recommendations." We can not create a brand that speaks TO the market unless we first LISTEN to the market.
    Eric Gagliano, MarketMatch
  • Ditto to Jane's comments. I found your post to be very informative. Our credit union is just kicking off a massive Branding Campaign and a many of the points you mentioned, are the exact points I emphasized about our brand. Awesome job!
    Gabe Munoz
  • Great thoughts! Branding is about every touch point between credit union and member/prospective member. It''s not only about communicating your brand through advertising, but living the brand through every interaction with members. Brands are fostered and nurtured over time through relationships. Great post. Too often we read about brands equating with logos, but a logo is merely a touchpoint to a relationship with the brand. Equating a logo to a brand is like saying the credit union IS the front door. Rather, the front door is merely a gateway to experiencing the brand and a touchpoint along the way.
    Scott Trueblood
  • I have enjoyed ideas about branding .They are simple but straight to the point.Well done
    sam gwatura
  • Im about to launch the biggest branding campaign in my country and those tips you have mentioned confirmed that im on the right track, cause my brand has a very bad reputation in the market with a great margin of opposition, but your tips has fulfilled my confidence