Looks Like a Boring Kind of Cheap Shirt

This entry was posted by Thursday, 4 November, 2010
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Prior to starting at CUNA 7 years ago I had no clue what a credit union was.  My parents had always belonged to banks and when I was looking for a financial institution, ”bank” was the only brand I knew.  Even after my husband and I both had terribly negative experiences with our bank we stayed put because we didn’t realize there was a better choice.  I don’t remember ever being taught what a bank was, it’s just all that I ever knew. I wish that somebody had sold me on credit unions earlier on;  it would have saved me some terrible service experiences and lots of money spent on bank fees. 

Truth is, even after starting at CUNA, it took me some time to really get the fact that credit unions were such a great choice for consumers.  I still have plenty of friends that I haven’t been able to convince to leave their banks, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that like me a few years ago, banks are familiar to them, and thus perceived as the best choice.

I recently came across the following video which conveys the impact branding has at an early age.  This simple school project shows that at as early as grade school children begin equating the value of something with their knowledge of that something’s brand.   The older a person gets, the more this belief gets solidified regarding the brands they know and turn to. 

I think in some ways credit unions are like  the logo-less products in the video, many people don’t really understand what a credit union is so they see credit unions as a lesser option than a bank.   To overcome that, credit unions need to begin creating a loyalty to their brand at as early an age as possible.   Whether it’s through a partnership with local schools, a sponsorship of  certain youth events or strengthened relationships with current members to help ensure they are sharing their love of their credit union with their kids.  Credit unions need to be doing something to make sure children start seeing them as relevant, or years down the road they will have an even harder time trying to convince them that they are the best choice. 

In an article in Credit Union Magazine, CUNA executive vice president and chief operating officer, John Franklin shared that “it is estimated that today’s 90 mil­lion {credit union} members have 19 million children under 18 years old. Studies show the very best way to get loyal young members is through their parents’ memberships. Yet little progress is being made.”   

What are you and your credit union doing now to make sure today’s kids become future loyal members of your credit union?

3 Responses to “Looks Like a Boring Kind of Cheap Shirt”

  1. Meghann,
    This is such a great post because it is so true! My niece is twelve and she is already extremely brand conscious (almost to the point of being scary). Her and her friends talk about how many pairs of Miss Me jeans she has and wouldn’t even consider thrift store shopping or wearing something that wasn’t from a brand name store in the mall. It is an unfortunate reflection of our times, and our culture but it is true.

    Mr. Franklin is correct when he says the “best way to get loyal young members is through their parents’ memberships.” When I got my first job in high school I knew that I had to have a place (besides my piggy bank) to keep my money. My mother worked for CUNA Mutual at the time so she was very familiar with the credit union system and had belonged to a credit union for years (even though her first job, ironically, was at a bank). She explained the credit union difference to me and recommmended that I go to UW CU for more information.

    To this day I am grateful that my mom was a proud credit union member who had the good sense to pass her first hand knowledge and experience on to me. I hope other credit union members and employees are doing the same…

  2. Thanks for the comment Courtney! Kudos to your mom for passing on such great advice :-)


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