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Does Your Credit Union Think Like a Brand?

Allison Netzer joins The Remarkable Credit Union podcast, episode 96

Most credit unions have a set of brand guidelines that include dos and don’ts for their color palettes, logos, images, graphics, and copy. But do guidelines like these truly capture the essence of your brand? Allison Netzer, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Nymbus and co-author of Think Like a Brand, Not a Bank, would answer that question with a resounding NO.

Allison joins us on this month’s episode of The Remarkable Credit Union podcast to talk about who credit unions should be tapping into to help shape and promote their brand, why “member-first” isn’t really a brand differentiator, and what problem-solving has to do with brand identity.

She also addresses this month’s BIG question:

How can credit unions unlock the true power of brand, and how can a more brand-focused mindset help take the credit union movement to the next level?

 

Key takeaways

  1. Employees are your most important and most overlooked asset when it comes to creating a compelling brand. Brands shouldn’t be siloed in marketing, they belong to every employee across the organization. Engaged employees create momentum and can help to continually evolve a brand.
  2. “Member-first” isn’t really a differentiator for members. It’s a way that credit unions differentiate from the big banks. But credit unions don’t really benefit by “chasing Chase.” It’s better to carve out a niche and own it consistently than to invest time and energy into trying to “keep up” with the megabanks.
  3. Credit unions weren’t created to serve a geographic region, they were created to solve a problem. As credit unions grow and merge, they need to keep the shared problems of their members front and center. The best brands aren’t about looking pretty, they’re about solving problems.

 

Read the full transcript:

Cameron:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Remarkable Credit Union podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology, and community impact. Each episode, we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual, and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative, and magnify the positive impact you have in your community. Today’s big question, how can credit unions unlock the true power of brand, and how can a more brand-focused mindset help to take the credit union movement to the next level? I’m Cameron Madill, founder and former CEO at PixelSpoke.

Kerala:
And I’m Kerala Taylor, a co-owner at PixelSpoke and the senior manager of marketing. We are so excited today to welcome Allison Netzer to our podcast. She’s the chief marketing and strategy officer at Nymbus, which is a digital banking platform that aims to help credit unions and other financial institutions push through the limitations of legacy technology to drive innovation and growth. Allison is also the co-author of the book, Think Like A Brand, Not a Bank, which I very much enjoyed reading over the past few weeks. And she has previously worked with brands like the Dallas Cowboys, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, and Aetna. Lastly, Allison is a mom to two boys, ages six and nine, and she loves hiking not only to get outdoors, but also to get inspiration for her writing. Allison, thanks so much for joining us.

Allison:
Oh, thank you both for having me. I’m excited.

Kerala:
So, let’s start with the title of your book, which I love, Think Like a Brand, Not a Bank. What does it mean to think like a bank, or for the sake of the conversation today, like a credit union, and how can that kind of thinking stunt a credit union’s brand?

Allison:
Sure. Well, the title came about really because a lot of people think it’s a bit tongue in cheek. Banks, credit unions are backwards, and consumer brands are not, and that’s not exactly the case. Since you’ve read it, you kind of know what we mean by that. It’s really more about embracing a mindset that in many ways, is already there at your shop, at your credit union. It just may be blocked in some way by internal politics, leadership styles, lots of different factors. But the point of the book, the point of the title is that the brand thinking is actually very natural. What we think about as traditional financial institution branding and marketing is actually not very natural to us as marketers. And that’s why sometimes it feels a little bit ick, a little bit tight because it’s not really naturally what we want to be doing.

Cameron:
And I’m curious that at a basic level, because our clients come to us, they need a website redesign, and obviously, one of the big catalysts for that is going to be a name change and or a rebrand. And there’s like this tactical side to a rebrand. It’s like, okay, here’s the new brand guidelines, and here’s the dos and don’ts, and here’s the Pantone colors, and all this stuff to try and create a visually… And then, of course, I guess, also the copy tone, coherent, and consistent, and compelling experience. But obviously, a brand is so much more than just a brand style guide, and it’s more than just creating consistency across an institution. So, I’m curious, what do you see as some of the opportunities that a rebrand presents to a credit union, and how can they leverage those opportunities as much as possible?

Allison:
Sure. Well, the good news, bad news is you’re rebranding all the time because brand, like we mentioned in the book, brand is not soft and fluffy. It’s not just the visual identity of the credit union. And you all know this better than I do. It’s much more than that. When we talk to people, when we were writing the book and doing the research, what we really came up with is people are already rebranding all the time. They’re changing the language, they’re adjusting visual identity, they’re adjusting different things in their values. When they’re going through strategic planning, they’re making adjustments. So, you’re actually always rebranding. I think the difference in where you’re going, Cameron, is what are some of the ways that beyond the tactics, beyond language, et cetera, can you evolve your institution? Can you innovate and evolve? And it really starts with defining what brand is and what isn’t, and who owns it and who doesn’t?

So, one of the things we talk about in the book is brand belongs to everyone. It doesn’t just belong to the marketing department. It’s not just a marketing exercise. If you have the support or the instigation of wanting to do something new from the top down, you’re going to have a much higher success rate, no matter what it is. I think that that’s really key. It’s just understanding that the brand is critical, and it’s across all business units, and learning to make the business case for brand or rebrand. As marketers, we get annoyed when people tell us to make something pretty or just think that we have pictures. But we also have a responsibility to not just show up with pictures when we’re given the opportunity to be at the table. You really have to learn to make a step-by-step business case for a brand or a rebrand and make it beyond a campaign or beyond justifying an agency expense.

Kerala:
We hear a lot about a member first mindset or extraordinary service in the credit union industry. I think those things are both true. I think those are values that credit unions hold near and dear, and really live day-to-day. But we do see that a lot of credit unions name these as key differentiators for their brand. And I’m just curious what your thoughts are on that. Is the member first mindset necessarily the right mindset when it comes to brand, or are there other things that credit unions should be thinking about?

Allison:
Oh, there’s so many things I want to say on this one, that you should not be member first. I know that sounds like the antithesis. And listen, I get it. The mission, vision, value statements, we care more. All of these things are true, but they’re not differentiators for the member. They’re really differentiators for the credit union against big banks. That’s the point. If we’re really being honest, that’s the point we’re trying to make. When we say we’re community focused or we’re member focused, we’re trying to politely say, “And those guys are not.”

Nothing wrong with that point, but that’s not really member centricity because that’s not what regular people think about all day long. We do, but normal people on the street are not thinking about, “Gosh, those big banks, they’re just…” No. Maybe a headline comes up and it becomes part of the news cycle, but that’s not their every day. What I’m pushing at is that’s not really member centricity to focus on your values and to focus on the community. If you really want to be member-centric, you actually have to be people or human-centric. The definition of community has changed. It’s no longer constrained by geography. We learned that in the pandemic. We see that in multiple ways. People identify in many different ways. People don’t identify necessarily as a member of X, Y, Z credit union. We’ve got to be okay with that.

I know we want it, but there’s ego and hubris in that. Do we really want them to identify as member of X, Y, Z credit union or do we want them to be financially successful? And I think what we really want is for them to be financially successful. To do that, you have to figure out how they identify most and what problem can you help solve? Again, it’s not just the lifestyle imagery. We’re going after young people, we’re going after truck drivers. It’s not just the identification. It’s can you solve a problem for that specific audience? And credit unions are the original. They’re the original niche financial institution. They invented that category, teachers and naval officers, and there’s so many great stories there. So, that piece is there, but folks identify a bit more broadly now. And the good news about that is there’s many more problems to solve, and credit unions are really well-positioned to do that.

Kerala:
That’s so interesting. And I’m also thinking about ways that credit unions definitely want to differentiate from the big banks, and I think right now, there might be even more motivation to distance themselves from those mega banks just with some of the recent bank failures and maybe some concerns about retaining trust in the financial services industry. So, I just wanted to talk about trust a bit because I think trust is incredibly important as to whether or not a brand is perceived as favorable. And it’s been all over the place. There was the Great Recession, obviously that wasn’t great for trust in the financial services industry. Then, there was COVID where credit unions actually played a role with helping small businesses access PPP loans, and I think that was a positive thing for trust and credit unions. So, I’m curious in the current climate where there’s just a lot of economic uncertainty, people are a little worried about the safety of their money, what do you think credit unions can do to retain or just even strengthen their members’ trust and the favorable impression of their brand?

Allison:
I think it’s a great question. I think like anything, as marketers, we tend to want to start from scratch. We love blank sheets of paper. We love from-scratch thinking. It’s just more fun. But really, I think it’s about starting where you are to understand where you can go. In other words, credit union members, and then, there’s some data points, and we can maybe put them in the show notes, current credit union members don’t have the same level of concern about financial stability, security, and fears around their institutions. The point I’m trying to raise is I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting swept up in some of those macro pieces because I don’t know if they’re as applicable in the credit union space. And it’s a balance. You don’t want it to put your head in the sand and be like, “Well, everyone thinks our credit union is great,” but you can also over index.

Again, chasing Chase, trying to differentiate from a big bank is bank thinking. That is bank thinking or credit union thinking. That is not brand thinking. The most successful consumer brands in the world don’t go around trying to differentiate against mega competitors. They carve out their niche, they own it consistently, and they’re constantly finding problems to solve for that niche. So, what I would argue is financial stability or concerns about our economic outlook are just not as big for credit union members. And even for those who it is an issue for, they’re not thinking that it’s for their bank or credit union to solve. Really, we’re at the stage now, where it’s more policy, it’s governmental, it’s beyond, we’re past the is my deposit safe?

You mentioned small business though. I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for credit unions to build trust. Most of them serve small businesses today anyway, just not overtly. I feel like that’s a wonderful open space for growth, and certainly to build trust because as the economy wobbles, we know this, you mentioned PPP, small businesses come to the fore. If credit unions can proactively be ready for that, I think that’s a great way to build trust.

Cameron:
I’m curious, Allison, just you talked about brand thinking and getting it out of the marketing department, and I think it’s something that I don’t know. We had someone on the podcast years ago, he was a cooperative expert, and he would quiz credit union employees on the seven cooperative principles when he went there to deposit his check or whatever. Naturally, most of them would fail, but he would sort of-

Allison:
Naturally. Yes.

Cameron:
And of course, it’s kind of unfair, but he just wanted to make the point of he said, “Hey, thank you so much for supporting my cooperative, and I’m curious…” There it would go. And I think brand is probably something similar. As you said, that probably, there’s a lot of people on the marketing team who are really passionate, we hope, and can-

Allison:
Hope so.

Cameron:
… recite a bunch of the guidelines, or the core purpose, or however the brand is expressed in that institution. But I like this comment about how do you help get it out so that all departments are living and breathing it? Yeah, I’ll stop there. I have a follow-on question, but how do you get it out of the marketing department so it’s used more broadly throughout the credit union?

Allison:
Sure. Well, it’s not in the ways we would think. It’s not enforcing the brand guidelines certainly. A friend of mine, colleague, Justin Dunn, who’s the CMO over at WSFS, or W-S-F-S. He has a belief or a line where he says that, “The most important elements of your brand walk in every day at 9:00 and walk out every day at 5:00.” AKA, it’s your employees, right? It’s not the marketing department. We execute the brand, but we’re not responsible for the brand. And the way you do that is, and this is hard, this is hard for us, but you have to really think about the employees as your first, and in some cases, your most important audience, whether you’re doing a rebrand or whether you’re maintaining the brand you have now.

And you almost think about it as a focus group. How can I convert… Let’s just say you wanted to go to a new geography as a credit union. You’re going to go out, you’re going to do field research, you’re going to do all the things. You need to be doing the same thing with the people who work for the credit union. What are the problems that your brand can solve? If your brand is all about we care more or we care about our community, but you’re not doing the basics for your employees, that brand, it’s always going to fall flat. It’s always going to fall hollow. If it’s our credit union solves big problems, but they’re still working on 30-year-old technology, that’s not going to fly either. So, it’s never going to be perfect.

And it’s never going to be everything to everyone, but it’s literally looking at each department as a new geography. So, think about when your credit union goes into a new geo, the steps that you take, practically speaking, take that by every department in the credit union, do those same steps, and you will have a brand that everyone can maybe not get a tattoo about, but at least see how their work connects to the brand. The mistake we make as marketers is, “Hey, look, here’s this great brand. Don’t you want to be a part of it?” And try to pull them, try to pull them to it. It’s really more of a push function, a push function being, “Hey, you’ve got this collection of challenges. Here’s a couple things that I’ve curated from the brand that could help you with that.” Does that make sense?

Cameron:
Yeah. It’s like turning the brand into a tool to help the employees solve problems for the credit union members.

Allison:
Yeah, it is. Exactly. For the credit union members or for themselves, and hopefully, they’re members too, but I think brands are about solving problems. The brands that stay, the brands that are compelling. Yes, there’s some that are beautiful, but there’s some that are not, but they solve problems for people. So, your brand has to constantly be solving problems, including for the employees. And if their problems are getting solved, they’re going to jump on on whatever the bandwagon is.

Cameron:
I love that. It’s a version I’ve seen some of the consulting slides and either presentations or sessions I’ve been in of the brand culture iceberg where it’s like brand is just a little bit up top, and then, everything below is culture. And then, you think icebergs and you think, hm, is that really the metaphor you want to use in a consulting presentation?

Allison:
Yeah, icebergs or pyramids, like pyramid, pyramid scheme. I agree, I think at some point we need a different shape, but you’re right, the brand is a manifestation of all this stuff, and we’ve got that in the book as well. The different layers come out and they manifest as brands. So, yeah.

Cameron:
Yeah. No, and they are inextricably linked. I always think of Titanic.

Allison:
Yes. No. Yes, you’re right.

Cameron:
We’re the Titan now, I guess. But anyway. All right, I digress. My other question, building on that, Allison, was I remember there’s a friend of a friend, and so this is, what is he? I guess he’s the CEO of a solar company, really interesting guy. A pretty big solar company, and I’ve worked with a bunch of projects with one of the co-founders. So, I’ve never met the CEO, but apparently his shtick is, he talks about Apollo 13. He says it was only on course for 3% of the entire journey.

So, that’s meant to convey this sense and respond style of strategy or engagement with the world, which is in contrast with the research and deploy model. There’s definitely not a right or wrong. I think anyone who gets really pedantic about this has kind lost the plot, but there’s space for both of those. And I’m curious, just I don’t know, how you would talk about the balance of a brand, just as you said, maybe a static thing, and you’ve nailed everything down, and you’re controlling everything versus something where there’s more of like a two-way dialogue happening between the employees, and the members, and the marketing team, or the executive team.

Allison:
Yeah, no, you’re right. It is not going to always be 100% one or the other. You got to have consistency. We have to have the brand guidelines because there’s plenty of data that supports inconsistent branding leads to mistrust. But I think there has to be a sense of play. If brand is out in the world, there has to be some flex, there has to be a sense of play to it. For example, maybe you come up with some great hoodies for your brand. You probably don’t want your tellers wearing that. That doesn’t make sense, nor would they want to do that. Or maybe they would, but you’ve got to give some flexibility. The way I think about it is as marketers, we’re going to provide a bunch of raw material. And with that raw material, engaged employees, engaged community members are going to be able to, frankly, create something better than what we’d be able to do on our own.

They’re going to be able to create momentum because that’s really what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to create momentum. So, the more raw materials we can get out there that are high quality and consistent, get a trust that people are actually going to put them together in ways that we’ve never thought of. So, you do have to have planning in terms of the business case. You do have to have planning in terms of the operations around it because it is a business unit. But after that, maybe it’s not 3%, but it’s definitely not 100%. You just want to have a sense of between three and 100%. Because you got to go back to what’s the goal? If you’re wanting to redo something and you’re willing to take that professional risk to redo it, rebrand it, you’ve got to be open to the fact that you don’t have all the answers because if you did, you would’ve done it already. So, being open to see where it goes.

I was on a podcast a few weeks ago, and they were talking about KPIs, and I hate KPIs so much, and we were talking about it, and he asked, “Well, what is your favorite KPI?” And I said, “My favorite KPI is vibe.” As marketers, you know when you’ve done your… You know when something is working. You don’t have to have a dashboard to tell you. Like, you know. And you also know when you’ve mailed it in and it’s fallen flat. You just know. So, you also have to give yourself as marketers a sense of play too in interpreting how well it’s working, the dashboard, the scorecard, all of those pieces, the plan. You have to give yourself a sense of play.

Cameron:
All right, so Allison, a critical interject. We’re in Portland, Oregon, so those hoodies, they would be a huge hit. Everyone would want to wear them, but-

Allison:
Everyone would want to wear them.

Cameron:
… I understand your point. Maybe not everywhere.

Allison:
Yes. That’s cool if they want to do that. But that’s what I’m saying. If that’s what it’s going to take for them to get on board, then get them some freaking hoodies.

Cameron:
Yeah, I love your point about the vibe because I have a very quantitative side, and we’ll talk more about this in just a minute about data, but we do these sort of culture surveys every couple times a year. We just did it again here, and I love them, but it’s also like what does it even mean that our culture is a 4.5 out of five? There’s actually this thing which yeah, I believe you can feel, and that’s how you know you’re winning and vibing together. I’m going to use that. All right, so I digress.

On the other angle though, one of the things we’ve invested a lot of time, and money, and team effort in is creating a culture of analytics. And we’ve had a lot of great conversations with our clients about it as well. For us, it’s all about pulling as many data points as possible from the overall digital branch, including website, digital banking platforms, et cetera. So, you can do that data-driven storytelling, not just have a bunch of data. And I love this phrase from your book, “Asking your data to dance.” What does that even mean, Allison? That sounds cool.

Allison:
It does, and I’m glad you stopped reading it. Well, full credit to my co-author, Liz High, because she’s always talking about asking the data to dance, but it’s like you were saying with the storytelling. It’s even beyond storytelling. It’s about if you think about dancing, there’s permission, there’s orchestration, there’s beauty, there’s movement, and there’s progress. So, there’s these different stages. We don’t want to bore everyone with our metaphor in the book, but if we were going to bore them, it’s really about taking those stages. You have to find the right partner, all the things, if you think back to your high school dance.

And the thing with a dance is you don’t have to be… It can move. And it’s constantly evolving, it’s constantly moving. So, data-driven storytelling, I think is good, but you’ve got a story in your head, and you’re pulling the data to support the story. We’re a little bit looser in terms of how we use the data in that we look at it and see where it tells us we should go. And then, from there, we start creating the story. So, we don’t start with the story in mind.

Kerala:
It’s so true that it’s easy to start with the story, and then, find the specific data points that match up to it, and maybe ignore the ones that don’t match up.

Allison:
Yeah. And listen, sometimes, you have to. I get it. I don’t want to come across as like Pollyanna. I don’t run a nonprofit. I get it. I have matched many a data point to my board decks all the time. But the thing with just finding the points is if you are selling t-shirts and you’re like, “Hey, we’re selling over here. It’s amazing. Like 30% of our sales come from Portland, we should focus on Portland.” And that’s probably right, but there’s no innovation ideation about what about that other 70%? Is anyone talking about the 70%? Where is that coming from? I agree, Portland’s amazing, 30%, but is anyone thinking about this? So, that’s the risk you run is you forget about that 70%, or you forget about the yellow parts of the scorecard because you want to do the green and the red, and it’s like, “Well, maybe there’s something cool in that part. We’re just not talking about it.” So, that’s the only reason we practice that is just to make sure there’s no good idea unturned.

Kerala:
I love it. Well, let’s go from data to something a little squishier, mission or purpose. We talk a lot at PixelSpoke about leading with purpose. And we even wrote a white paper a while back, and that was about just thinking beyond cause marketing campaigns. I don’t hear the term cause marketing as much anymore, but it was very popular five or 10 years ago. But actually, thinking beyond the campaign mentality and making the cause your actual brand, and I think that’s a very similar idea to what you pose in the book about making mission your product. And you mentioned some very well-known brands like Patagonia. We are definitely admirers of Patagonia. And some more recent financial institutions, Ellevest, which I love. I read all their emails, and I actually invest with them, and Daylight. I was just curious, in the credit union space, are there any credit unions that come to mind that have particularly mission-driven brands? And what are they doing well in this space?

Allison:
No, it is a great question. Yeah, there are. And when I was at Mac, and I think that’s where you and I met, I mentioned quite a few of them. When you think about mission, it’s so easy when you’re a credit union, to feel like you’ve already got that box checked. Because again, going back to the, we care more and the community base, and I am not meaning to sound like a jerk when I’m saying that. It’s just it is not a checkbox. Or maybe it’s a checkbox, but the box you should be focusing on is not that box, different box.

But that’s sort of again, the data point, looking for a story. It’s like, “Well, we’ve already done that piece. We’re already community driven. We’re already mission driven.” We love to evolve brands because we like to mess with the visuals. But if your mission, vision, values hasn’t evolved at the same rate as your brand in terms of the visual identity pieces, you’ve got a gap there. You’ve got a vacuum. And unfortunately, a lot of your members are in that vacuum. So, it’s okay to have a great mission, but drive it all the way through, like we say in the book, drive it through as a product. You’re selling ABC credit union so that ABC credit union is your product. That is your first level product. Have you done the same amount of rigor with that mission, with that brand that you have with the products that you offer underneath the masthead?

And if you haven’t, you have an opportunity to really go back and do that. So, I think the traditional definition, all credit unions do mission marketing well. They’re all involved in their community. They all give back, and they do all care. I’ve been working with credit unions for seven years now. That is true. Going beyond that doesn’t make it not true. Going beyond that goes back to members identify beyond geographics. Members identify beyond where they work. You have to evolve that mission as well.

Kerala:
Well, that’s actually a perfect segue to my next question because you’ve mentioned before about communities evolving beyond geographics, which is certainly true in this digital day and age. And I feel like in some ways, credit unions are going through a bit of an identity crisis because there’ve been so many mergers and acquisitions. And the whole credit union thing used to be we serve this very specific geographical community. And sometimes, even within geography, we serve employees at this specific company in this region. I feel like now, those audiences are definitely becoming a little more diluted as credit unions grow, and there is a danger of losing that niche that define their identity and perhaps trying to be everything to everyone. So, I’m curious what your thoughts are on that challenge, and as credit unions grow, or merge, or get acquired, how they can retain or evolve their brand?

Allison:
Wow, that is a good question. You’re right. It’s hard because it’s digital, people moving out in acquisitions, and it’s like when they keep redoing the college football or basketball. It’s just like, these people aren’t my rivals. I can’t get a rivalry going with New Hampshire State. It loses the whole original flavor. But what I would say is I wouldn’t say that credit unions were created to serve a geo. I’m going to go back slightly pedantic. They were actually created to solve a problem. Teachers being able to get paid on time. You read all the stories on websites. It’s like six guys on the frontier putting in 20 bucks to buy a refrigerator. That’s the problem. It wasn’t that they were guys in a field, it was they didn’t have a refrigerator. So, they got together, and then, they started, and then, now they’ve got a refrigerator, and then, so on and so forth.

So, I think rather than when we think about M&A, it’s just like, it’s not about how do we combine these colors? How do we combine the missions? How do we combine this? It’s like, “Well, what problem are you solving over here, Bill, either originally or now? What problems are being solved over here? Together, is that an even bigger solution?” So, I think it’s less about what community you’re serving and how you expand that and more about staying true to the problems you can solve. And the good news when you do that is when it’s with the problems you can solve, that’s going to expand beyond teachers, or pilots, or whatever, oil workers. It’s going to expand beyond that, and it’s going to be natural to expand beyond that. You can actually do that without acquisition.

I think when you think about M&A, something we’ve written extensively about is that is a great niche opportunity. If strategically, you want to expand to younger audiences or whatever, high net worth individuals, or whatever your strategy is, that niche strategy should be informing your M&A, so you’re going out and acquiring and merging with an incremental audience, an incremental problem to be solved. Repetitious M&A doesn’t do much for brand. And to be honest, it doesn’t do much financially for the institutions either. But that incremental M&A, which doesn’t mean just expanding to the six counties to your east, unless they’re riddled with completely different problems than the other people are. That’s an important consideration.

Cameron:
Cool. It’s like saying the problem is going to be the piece that’s portable, right?

Allison:
Yes.

Cameron:
I think there’s a lot of the most interesting growth strategies I’ve seen outside of credit unions. I don’t know the specific M&A strategies of most credit unions is how do we find a different audience with a similar problem that we’re tooled up to solve? Yep. It seems like that linkage is where it works. All right, enough serious stuff. First of all, for those of you listening, it’s just going to be an audio podcast because that’s what we do. But we’re here on video, and you have to know Allison’s background is immaculate. It’s very tasteful, it’s very minimal. I thought it was a fake Zoom background, so just try to visualize that.

Allison:
Yeah, visualize a fake Zoom background in my basement. No.

Cameron:
And probably your six and nine-year-old busting through the door right in the middle of the-

Allison:
Oh, I’m sure. Yeah. Well, as long as the Roblox lasts, we should be fine.

Cameron:
That’s good. They seem well-mannered so far.

Allison:
Yes. So far, so good.

Cameron:
All right, so let’s do some rapid fire questions. Allison, if you could have dinner with one historical person, who would it be and why?

Allison:
Oh my gosh. You didn’t even tell me this that we’re going to do rapid fire. One historic figure, I would say Abraham Lincoln because I would like to understand where and how he got his bravery.

Cameron:
In the log cabin or in the White House?

Allison:
Well, not in the movie theater.

Cameron:
Well, Allison, not in the movie theater.

Allison:
Yeah. Not in the movie theater. I would say the White House, because as you mentioned, I appreciate impeccable design. I don’t want to get in a log cabin. I’m not interested in that.

Cameron:
But good point.

Allison:
Plus, his wife was mean. I read her biog. I don’t want to go in the log cabin.

Cameron:
All right, well, and I guess you’re right though. As long as it’s not in the theater, it’s probably all good.

Allison:
Yeah, probably all right. Safe.

Cameron:
If you could have a different career, what would you do?

Allison:
Oh, I would love to be an English teacher in high school.

Cameron:
Awesome. And Allison, what is your favorite cause?

Allison:
My favorite cause? Well, my older son Henry has dyslexia, and so, we give and volunteer a lot for that and for curriculums in schools that serve that community.

Cameron:
That’s great. You mentioned tattoos earlier, so I wanted to know what your life slogan is, but let’s refine that a little bit. If you had a slogan tattooed on your right deltoid, what would that slogan be?

Allison:
Isn’t that when my mom was… No. I’m a North Carolinian, and so, I love our state slogan. So, it’s actually my slogan, [foreign language 00:34:21], which is to be rather than to seem.

Cameron:
That’s the North Carolina state? I did not know that.

Allison:
We could talk about North Carolina trivia all day. But yes, that is our North Carolina motto, to be rather than to seem.

Cameron:
I need to think. I need to ponder that. I love that. But I’ll ponder it later. Allison, thank you so much.

Allison:
Yeah, my pleasure.

Cameron:
I’d love to do our final take, and just is there anything you didn’t get to or anything you really want to reiterate for our audience?

Allison:
I think I’d like to reiterate that you’re just not as far off the mark as you think. One thing I’ve found consistent about marketers, and certainly credit union marketers, is we hold ourselves to a bar that’s higher than anyone else could hold ourselves to. And just from someone who… And you all are the same, you talk to literally hundreds, if not thousands of marketers a year, we’re so much farther along than we give ourselves credit for. Doesn’t mean we don’t have a long way to go, but we don’t have to start from scratch. We’ve got a lot of great stuff to work with.

Cameron:
Awesome. Great words to close with. Allison, thanks so much for joining. It’s been a real pleasure.

Allison:
Thanks so much. Bye-bye.

Kerala:
Thanks, Allison. Wow. I have to say, Allison has some unexpected insights that really challenge the status quo thinking about what brand is and what it means. Personally, I love it when I’m inspired to think differently about a topic that I think I understand. For instance, Allison talked about how employees are your most important and most overlooked asset when it comes to creating a compelling brand. Now, that’s obvious to me, but it’s something I hadn’t really thought explicitly much about before. Brands really shouldn’t be siloed in marketing. They belong to every employee across the organization. And engaged employees create momentum and can really help to continually evolve a brand.

Secondly, it was fascinating when Allison was talking about how member first isn’t really a differentiator for members. It’s something that we hear so much in the credit union space and so much from our clients, and it’s a great thing to be, but it’s really more of a way that credit unions differentiate from the big banks. And the question is, do credit unions benefit by chasing Chase, so to speak? Perhaps it’s better to carve out a niche and own it consistently than to invest time and energy into trying to keep up with the mega banks.

And lastly, we often forget that credit unions weren’t created to serve a geographic region. They were really created to solve a problem. I’ve seen so many credit union about pages that tell the story of a group of teachers or a group of factory workers pooling their money so they can access loans and other financial services. So, as credit unions grow and merge, they need to keep the shared problems of their members front and center. The best brands aren’t about looking pretty. That can be a plus, but they’re about solving problems.

Well, thanks, again, for joining us for another great episode. The Remarkable Credit Union is brought to you by PixelSpoke, a digital marketing agency that works with credit unions to create user-friendly, high-converting, and award-winning websites. As a B Corp and worker-owned cooperative, we believe that business can and should be a force for good. You can learn more and check out our work at PixelSpoke dot co-op. That’s PixelSpoke, all one word, dot C-O-O-P. Until the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

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