Thing 16 of 30: Be positive and shy away from bank bashing in our branding and marketing

September is 30 things I would implement or consider implementing at my credit union if I was a credit union leader.

Thing 16: Be positive and shy away from bank bashing in our branding and marketing

I like positivity versus negativity in life and in branding and marketing. That's why some credit union campaigns that focus solely on bank bashing rub me the wrong way. Jeffry Pilcher recently wrote a good opinion piece entitled, The ugly downside of bank bashing about this practice and I wholeheartedly agree with his take on the subject. The key questions that Jeffry asks are worth careful consideration:

  • How can financial institutions rebuild consumer trust when so many of the industry’s own marketing messages say bankers are untrustworthy scum?
  • Do consumers really see a difference between banks and credit unions?
  • At what point can the financial industry no longer withstand the mockery, self-loathing and shame it heaps on itself?

Matt Davis, the Credit Union Warrior, recently wrote a great post entitled Bringing back optimism. Matt concludes with this, "Swallow your pride. Spend some money. Take some chances on your members. Be optimistic that in doing this, you are being exactly what you promised your members you would be: a financial institution that they can count on, no matter what."

At my fictitious credit union, I would portray a positive and optimistic image and stay away from heavy-handed bank bashing. I would concentrate on the differentiated traits that make our credit union special rather than constantly pointing out what's wrong with banking.

Unless you can toe the line with an entertainment and educational poke at the differences between the banks and credit unions, bank bashing can leave your potential members depressed versus inspired.

Caveat: if you choose to bash banks, do it exceptionally well

There is always an exception to the rule. Addison Avenue's new Bank Intervention campaign is a heavy handed (and hilarious) bank bashing extravaganza.

After exploring the microsite and watching all of the videos, I had an ear-to-ear smile. It's humorous, exceptionally well executed, the video-script writing is brilliant and the casting of the actors is top-notch. It combines terrific product offers, fun quizzes plus a smart Twitter tie-in. It is bank bashing done right. It works because it is highly entertaining.

Tim