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In Praise of Simplicity

In credit union circles, we often praise the “Grow or Go Away” mode of thinking and we seemingly chant the mantra of “Bigger is Better” without much thought as to whether for each and every organization that saying rings true.

Today, we’re going to spend a little time praising simplicity and flexibility, two words that not only can lead to growth … but more importantly, lead to building a strong brand and member loyalty.

Put another way, there’s nothing wrong with being large, but it’s better to be relevant. A good case in point is Carolina Postal Credit Union down in Charlotte. The credit union recently announced the roll out of a “Priority Payday Checking” product.

It’s a simple concept … the US Government makes its ACH salary deposits for postal employees early Wednesday morning for payment two days later. CPCU immediately deposits this money into the accounts of postal employees who have checking accounts at the credit union.

While getting paid two days early is nice, the real member benefit is that postal carriers can transact their business at the credit union on Wednesday or Thursday instead of just on Friday, which according to the credit union is a particularly busy day for postal employees.

For front line staff at CPCU, this also means that postal paydays are a little less hectic. In short, everyone wins.

This new product has already created new checking accounts at the credit union and has no doubt generated great word-of-mouth among members (which of course is the best kind of PR you can get).

Innovative ideas like this come from credit unions that have more homogeneous member bases, and it helps when the trip from the CEOs office to marketing to compliance to member services is a few short steps … not a crushing journey of paperwork, bar graphs, turf wars and legal consultations. Kudos to CPCU for seeing an opportunity to serve its members and going for it!

Being a large credit union can have its advantages, but big ships not only have a hard time steering away from icebergs … but also have a harder time steering toward opportunities.

So buck up smaller credit unions, and remember that knowing your member’s needs and designing products to suit them is far more important than asset size.


4 Responses

  1. It’s great to hear you talking about relevance–it’s so key, yet so overlooked by credit union marketers who get distracted by new ideas that are cooler, bigger, or what everyone else is doing. If you want to build a credit union brand that’s distinct and powerful, simply asking yourself “is this relevant?” or “how can we make this relevant to our brand?” will be the test that will lead all of your initiatives toward a stronger brand.

    Jeff Stephens
    Creative Brand Communications

  2. First off – thanks to the CU Communicator for recognizing us!

    thanks to Jeff S for his kind words but I’d like to point out that even before “relevance to your brand” is considered, we look at relevance to our member. (because afterall, our brand is defined by the members we serve)

    And our marketing mantra of:

    “If it’s good for the member, and it’s good for the credit union then it’s good to go!” serves ALL credit unions well, regardless of asset or charter.

    Diva Deb

  3. Awesome service! You the woman, Diva Deb! If that isn’t “relevant” to your membership, I don’t know what is.

    Great work!

  4. Deb & Jeff – thanks for weighing in on this topic. I read on another blog (which one escapes me) that building a brand is a really tough enterprise, and I agree in general with that statement.

    The needs of the member and what’s relevant to them, as Deb so aptly put it, has got to be the starting point to building a brand.

    Otherwise, why bother?

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