Credit Union Branding Best Practices

A roundup of successful credit union rebrands and refreshed branding approaches

Montana Credit Union Billboard

Credit Union Branding at a Glance:

  • Successful credit union brands align their purpose with the outward expression of their brand, defining their brand DNA and living out their promise
  • Data can help successfully make a case for change and build a brand strategy based on real research
  • Credit union brands with existing equity can leverage the benefits of their brand while modernizing their identity to appeal to critical cohorts for growth

Most banking and credit union leaders are laser-focused on growing their financial institutions. Brand building remains a key way to spur that growth. As four out of ten financial leaders cite “standing out” as their top priority, distinction and differentiation remain essential for building bank and credit union brand awareness. It’s vital that institutions reintroduce themselves to the marketplace with a refreshed brand and reinvigorated purpose. According to Adrenaline’s Financial Industry Pulse report, “rebranding is a clearer path to new market entry and growth.”

The reality is that leaning on brand for growth is foundational to a financial institution’s future success. “We’ve had lots of conversations with credit unions across the country of all different asset sizes that were focused on being able to take what they had to offer and expand it,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio, Adrenaline’s Chief Brand Officer, discussing credit union branding on the Believe in Banking Podcast. “They’re looking at expansion in lots of different ways – expansion of their market footprint, and continuing to attract members, new members, younger members, members for whom the credit union proposition is so powerful.”

To find out how several prominent credit unions have reinvigorated their brands through refreshed branding and identity approaches, we’ve rounded up five of the credit union branding best practices from our recent and relevant credit union case studies. See how these successful rebrands help to redefine the credit union promise for the next generation of members.

Define Your Brand DNA

When UniWyo Credit Union sought an updated brand identity, they knew they needed to focus on two fundamentals – reaffirming their Western roots and updating their member experience to reflect a more modern banking approach. “Aligning their purpose with how their brand was expressed outwardly, UniWyo centered their brand strategy around a bigger, bolder promise that brings their core people-first values to the forefront and bridges the gap across new audiences and new markets.” By defining their brand DNA, UniWyo is in a position to invite new members in with banking solutions to meet them where they are along their life stage.

UniWyo Credit Unions brand promise from the UniWyo brand book

Create a Platform for Storytelling

When Citadel Credit Union was rebranding their 80-year-old institution, they leaned on their past strength, while capturing the energy of new generations. Their updated identity leveraged a series of powerful assets to tell the brand’s renewed story. “With a strong foundation in place, the team developed a strong story arc, and a system of assets for expressing the brand in a meaningful way.” The logo was the visual linchpin, supported by a powerful tagline “Building Strength” to show balance, stability and progress, reflecting Citadel’s brand positioning. The brand’s identity system tells the brand story of foundational strength and forward movement.

Advertisement for Citadel Credit Union

Use Data for Decision-Making

As a legacy financial institution in need of an update, Tower Federal Credit Union wanted to  reinvigorate their 70-year-old brand by successfully making a case for change and building a brand strategy based on real research to gain consensus among key institutional stakeholders. “Through customized research, focused interviews and panel discussions, Adrenaline developed a plan for Tower to connect and communicate with a younger generation, while maintaining their core membership.” By leveraging smart data, the reinvigorated Tower built a brand experience to connect members with the community and earn new growth at the same time.

marketing flyer for Tower Federal Credit Union

Leverage Your Existing Influence

For decades, Montana Credit Union has been known as the place to bank in Great Falls, MT. Even though thy had only three branches, the credit union has a surprisingly outsize presence in their local service area and their name featured built-in opportunity for the institution as it expands into new markets. “The credit union has the benefit of having an influential name that gives the perception of large market share to outside audiences.” To ensure a prosperous future, the credit union rebrand leveraged the benefits of their Montana Credit Union brand name, while modernizing their identity to appeal to younger audiences, an essential cohort for greater growth.

Montana Federal Credit Union Magazine

Embrace Change with a New Name

Brands needing new names have typically outgrown their current names in geography or in membership. In the case of Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, it was both. The credit union no longer exclusively served only educators from the region and needed a new brand name and identity to meet the moment in the opportunity-rich Central Valley region of California. The new Valley Strong brand expresses both a rich history and bountiful future. “With an outlook that is optimistic, the Valley Strong Credit Union brand signifies a focus on member growth, new possibilities and nurturing a brighter tomorrow.”

Valley Strong Credit Union Rebrand Case Study

To learn more about credit union branding or to speak with one of Adrenaline’s bank and credit union experts, contact us today.

Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

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