If you own or manage a business that serves your local
community, you can build a successful brand without spending huge amounts of
money. In fact, brand building has nothing to do with money and everything to do
with how your business does business.
Here are some rules to help you build a local brand that serves your business
Know Your Business
The first thing you business needs to do to establish a valuable brand
with your community is decide what you can offer your customers that your
competition can’t (or won’t). You need to understand what makes your business
unique in your market. Are you the only business of your type in town? Do you
have a stable employee base? Do they live in the community you serve? If so, you
can use them as your secret weapon to offer things your competition does
Look at every aspect of your business and see what strengths or competitive
advantages you have that competitors in your market do not.
Talk to Your Market
Once you know your strengths you need to know what your market wants – so you
can use your strengths to serve them better than anyone else does.
To find out what your market wants, ask them. Get your people (starting with
the CEO) talking to the people in your market. Be active in the local Chamber
and other organizations. Invite the movers and shakers to lunch. Host some
customer round-tables or other facilitated meetings where you can have focused
conversations with them.
Also, don’t hire consulting firms to do this. It’s okay to have them setup
the process and plan for you but your staff need to do the work. People will be
more responsive and open if they know they are talking to credit union staff
rather than consultants.
Make a habit of continuously connecting with your market to discover what
they want and what they’re not getting.
Paint a Picture
To build a brand you need to know what you’re building. Just like a building
needs plans and drawings to be built right, your brand also needs a structured
plan if you want it to work for you. Your brand needs to tell people why they
should do business with you. It needs to communicate instantly what values
your business stands for and how you are unique in your market.
Your brand is not a logo, a color scheme or a slogan. Your brand is your
reputation. It’s what people think and feel about your business. You can guide
the creation of your brand with a conscious and thoughtful effort.
Get Input and Buy-in
Your brand is the sum total of every experience your market has with your
credit business. It is not your ads, your signs or your brochures. It is built
by your people. Every contact your staff has with every customer, potential
customer, vendor and community member creates your brand. Every contact
So, to build a brand that is honest and effective you need to have everyone
on you team working toward the same vision. You need to have your team 100% on
board with what you are trying to accomplish.
Everyone needs to have a clear understanding of what your business stands for
and how you serve your customers. Their actions needs to align with this. Your
employees need to live your values. When this happens, your brand is consistent
and clear. People get a powerful message about what kind of company
your business is.
The Most Important Rule