It’s a question many businesses debate. Does it make more sense to brand your organization or focus on sales? There are many in the business world who are loyal to one side or the other. Those who see the big picture understand there’s more to consider.
Branding and selling are not either/or propositions. A business can have one or the other, but the true value to both the organization and its customers is when branding and sales work together.
Branding is designed to differentiate your organization from all others—even those financial institutions that seem to offer the same services you do. It creates a perception in the mind of consumers that there is no credit union or bank like yours. It’s not just marketing. It is everything your brand is known for - the products you deliver, the way you deliver them, the way your employers treat members, the way your credit union fixes mistakes, the cleanliness of your branches, the look and feel of your logo and marketing collateral, the way your employees dress and even the cleanliness and smell of your restrooms. Your brand is your credit union’s image, strength and reputation, and everything you do creates a feeling or emotion in your members when they hear your name.
Selling is the day to day engine that drives your organization’s success or failure. That should be a frightening proposition for credit unions that continue to reject the idea of a sales culture. If your credit union is not adding new members, increasing account penetration among existing members or increasing asset size, your credit union is not growing. Selling is not about pushing a product or service the member doesn’t need. Selling is about knowing your members and offering them solutions that will benefit them. If you have a member with a large balance in his money market account who has enough to benefit from a special high-rate CD, wouldn’t he be grateful that you’re willing to pay him more for his money as opposed to offering him a credit card he may not need? That is what effective selling is all about.
The best formula for success is when branding and selling intersect. Your brand helps create customer loyalty, which make it easier to sell more to existing members. Selling to existing members is also more cost efficient. Plus, loyal customers tend to sell the credit union for you, because they are the ones who use the most products and services. Just remember, it’s your sales force that can make or break your brand. A negative experience with one touch point can negate all the brand equity you build with other touch points. A positive experience can completely leverage the power of your brand and elevate it in the eyes of your members. You can say your brand is one thing, but it’s the member experience that defines their perception.
Read the March issue of my monthly e-zine for more in-depth information on the intersection of branding and selling.