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We Are Always Branding
Friday, May 12, 2017 6:05 AM

David England, Senior Research Analyst, Cornerstone Credit Union League

For the sake of clarity, I'm using the following as a definition of brand: A symbol, name, and/or sign (or all three) that identifies the maker or seller of the product and distinguishes one product or service from the competitions’ products and services….

The term "brand" is likely from a Norse word for “burn.” Like the cowboys who burn their brands on cattle, marketers try to burn an image (a distinguishing, attention-getting, memorable, and complimentary image) in our minds.

Every day, we brand ourselves. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us are more aware than others that it's taking place. For good or bad, it is true. It's not by accident that some institutions are better at developing and nurturing their brands. No doubt, you have heard about great branding and advertising campaigns such as those by Nike and Apple. Not everyone does it that well.

More directly to the point, some credit unions are excellent at branding, while others need help. Most likely, there are branding issues that, at times, keep you up at night. Every brand wants to connect to its customers in a perceptible, emotional way that will result in a lifelong bond. This does not happen overnight. From brand inception, to building a brand, to improving a brand, you must actively make decisions that move the brand forward.

How Branding Research Helps Credit Unions

Branding impacts your ability to recruit top-tier employees and talent. Make sure that your employees align with your brand. Branding also contributes to your ability to attract members. With myriad ways to impact perceptions, choosing those with the highest returns on your investment is critical, especially when branding can increase customer loyalty, market share, and financial performance.

Key Questions That Need Insightful Answers

  • Who is aware of your brand and why?
  • How recognizable is your brand?
  • What is your brand image, and is it changing over time?
  • What do non-members think of your brand?
  • What is the level of brand usage and why?
  • What is your brand’s equity?
  • How loyal are members to your brand?
  • How can you improve your brand?
  • Do you need to re-brand and, if so, how?


Branding a credit union is a complex proposition. Yet, there is always a way to develop a plan through careful consideration of objectives. As researchers at Cornerstone Credit Union League, we resolve to provide you the insights you need to improve your brand.

Branding research can provide a system that predicts the impacts of various possible scenarios, allowing you to choose the best path that improves brand perceptions, brand performance, and brand equity. The steps are tailored to a credit union’s particular needs and budget.  

Often, the first quantitative research step is to measure the level of brand awareness among your target group. The second step is to determine how much the target audience actually knows about the brand (a knowledge measurement). The third step is to quantify brand image, an extension of the knowledge dimension—image refers to all of the associations, values, emotions, perceptions, colors, etc. connected to a brand.

Winning requires that, when our members think of us, they think of trust, great service, ease to work with, very competitive rates, etc. Let’s burn that into their minds. And remember, we have to do it every day.