This post has been rattling around in my head for years.
The credit union franchise
Credit unions live and die by a double-edge sword. On one hand, being part of the credit union movement means that your credit union is part of the world-wide credit union brand. A largely misunderstood world-wide brand, but a world-wide brand none-the-less.
On the other hand, to succeed locally, your credit union needs to establish its own brand that differentiates it from dozens of bank and credit union competitors.
It's like buying a franchise restaurant but without all the support and brand recognition that you bought into the franchise for. To top it off, the franchise head office gave out another franchise to a store across the street and another franchise to the guy on the corner. Your credit union is largely left to fend for itself.
Your franchise manual has some basic product and service recipes, but much of the information is left to your credit union to figure out on its own.
To further confound the consumer in many regions, collective advertising paints credit unions as interchangeable. Sometimes this collective advertising promotes superior products and services. Sometimes it promotes universal ATM access. Sometimes it promotes the credit union difference through the magic of rap music! Because this collective advertising needs to be generic in nature, sadly it is.
My strong finish to this post (not)
All of my quasi-analysis still leaves this unanswered question for me, and most likely, for your potential members: Is it a collective movement with a collective difference or is it a bunch of independent brands trying to define their own difference in a world where competing against one another is reality?
If I can't figure it out, no wonder consumers are left scratching their heads and unconvinced to switch to your credit union from that bank that they hate.
The smart part of this post, where I offer advice and guidance, is still rattling around in my head, but at least I got some of it out.
Help me rattle the rest out in the comments.
UPDATE: There is no such thing as a credit union franchise. I made this up. I use the word franchise because it describes a popular distribution method of other large global brands. Sorry for the confusion. Like I said, this notion has been rattling around in my head for years.