Thursday, July 14, 2011

What If . . . You Banked at a Co-op?

In the May/June issue of The Cooperative Business Journal, Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union finds itself in the spotlight once again for another trendsetting approach it has embraced in an effort to further cultivate its sterling image in the community. The full-page article, Banking on the Co-op Brand: How Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union Boosted Membership by Celebrating its Co-op Roots, is also laid-out around a print advertisement the credit union is currently running to make its point. The ad asks, “What if . . . you banked at a co-op?”

Seattle Metropolitan’s campaign also includes a specially designed website,, which further engages the consumer to consider the value that a cooperative banking model offers.

While such an effort by a credit union to tout its cooperative heritage should no doubt be lauded and emulated by all of us throughout the movement, I think it’s important that we also be particularly attentive to the factual data that Seattle Metropolitan is acquiring as a result of this branding venture. It is generating a rise in new membership!

Surprised? I’m not.

The seven cooperative principles are the unique value proposition of a credit union. They imbue the credit union brand with a life that is absolutely unique. No other banking or financial institution outside of a credit union can claim that distinction.

A little more than a year ago in my blog, I discussed a national branding campaign and what is needed to provide a consistent credit union brand experience from Maine to Alaska and Hawaii (The Key to Consistency in the Brand Experience of Credit Unions, June 2, 2010).

If you recall, I pointed to the brand as being the total comprehensive experience one has of an organization. This is an experience that’s influenced by the organization’s history, reputation and the caliber of its staff; its products and services, how they are packaged, priced and named; its style of communication and advertising.

A national branding campaign would, of course, need to encompass all those attributes, everything contributing to the way a person would experience a credit union. However, for a national brand to be successful, I believe it needs to be consistent from one end of the country to the other. And, the key to maintaining that consistency across a national landscape, one exhibiting all sorts of credit union names, logos, appearances, and membership segs, is the seven cooperative principles. They represent a common brand we can all put our arms around!

The seven principles are a common story we all should be proudly telling our communities. It’s a story that certainly captures our unique value proposition, will attract media attention and can engage consumers like never before. It’s a story perfectly fitting to tell the world during the United Nation’s upcoming celebration of the International Year of Cooperatives. And, most important, it’s a story that delivers value to the balance sheet; proven by Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union.

Suppose your credit union asked the community, “What if . . . you banked at a co-op?”

(Special thanks to Andrew McLeod at the National Cooperative Business Association for providing me with a  PDF copy of the article as it appears in the May/June issue of Cooperative Business Journal. Access the full article at Banking on the Co-op Brand)

1 comment:

  1. I just became a member of the seattle credit union so I have been trying to lean more about the financial world. I came across your blog and found it very interesting. Great article!