CU Branding 101: For teachers and anyone who has ever had one

A recent post on Robbie Wright's Life and Times of a CU Employee blog raised a completely separate issue for me. And it irks me whenever I see it.

Read all of the messaging on this website home page and see if you can see my pet peeve.

Transient

There is a huge disconnect between the built-in brand position set in the credit union name (Queensland Teachers' Credit Union Limited) and the tagline that attempts to reverse that built-in positioning (for teachers and anyone who has ever had one). How can you appeal to absolutely everyone with a name that is meant to appeal to a chosen few?

The very clear name states that this is a credit union specifically formed to serve teachers who live in Queensland. This is a crystal clear position that differentiates this credit union from all of its competitors.

I speculate that somewhere in the credit union's history the leadership and board determined that the credit union needed to grow in order to survive.

Two ways to grow:

  1. Become more relevant to your original field of membership
  2. Expand the credit union's field of membership

Before you even consider option 2, you need to exhaust the potential of option 1. Work to have your credit union resonate with the majority of your field of membership and entice your non-members within that field to become members and participate by offering unique products and services that are actually built for their unique needs. After studying the website, I do applaud Queensland Teachers' for having a dedicated tab and a number of great products just for teachers.

If you do go for option 2, you have to go all the way. You need to change your name and build a compelling brand position. Slapping on a new, completely open-ended tagline will not get the results you envisioned when you opened your bond. A brand position must be clear and avoid confusion.

Also, don't even get me started on the acronym solution. It may be easy to go with QTCU, but acronyms are cold, emotionless and easily forgotten.

The golden carrot of an unlimited position never performs like imagined. The problem with trying to appeal to everyone is you actually appeal to no one. And if you do attempt to appeal to everyone, at least avoid confusion in your name and tagline. It's never a great strategy to weaken your unique brand position to the point of confusion.

Tim

P.S. If you found this unusually harsh for my blog posts, I apologize. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.

It is not my practice to dump on credit union marketing and branding. I think we are all in this together and there are enough blogs that throw out negative energy just to generate traffic and comments. I am using Queensland Teachers' Credit Union Limited as an example to help illustrate a point that applies to credit unions in transition from closed bond (limited fields of membership) to open bond (community charter fields).