Top 4 Credit Union Best Practices for 2022

A spotlight on credit unions that provide inspiration for the industry with their strategies for strengthening member relationships

Our recent article on Brand Building for Growth explored how credit unions leverage brand as a way to distinguish, define, and differentiate their organizations.

Brand building provides a powerful platform for attracting and retaining members and ultimately, spurs institutional growth. In a competitive and crowded marketplace, credit unions are tasked with creating new relationships in an environment where there’s a nearly three-fold increase in consumers choosing challenger banks. For these financial institutions, standing out in a crowded market and implementing some credit union best practices couldn’t be more essential. 

In an era where all financial institutions are challengers, credit unions are in a powerful position, though, where they can lean on some inherent advantages. Whether it’s using their role as a trusted community partner, diving deep into their brand purpose or providing excellent member experiences that set an industry standard, credit unions are exemplars of how to mean more to their members. To help shine a light on some of the CU best practices, we’ve rounded up some compelling case studies and success stories from forward-looking institutions ready to take on the future.

1. Reflect Rich Relationships

When a credit union with deep roots in the Central Valley of California needed a new name and brand, they used market research, powerful intelligence and insights and a social listening to dig into what was most meaningful to the area’s residents. Already a linchpin of the community, the former Kern Schools Federal Credit Union built their new Valley Strong name and brand identity out of a sense of local pride and a strong heart for service. Using their brand as the foundation for telling an authentic story, Valley Strong was able to successfully move into new markets and sow the seeds of new relationships, even as they reaffirm existing ones.

Valley Strong Credit Union Rebrand Case Study

2. Excel at Member Experience

Looking at our neighbors to our north for inspiration, Canada’s credit unions have a global reputation for customer service. They’re so influential that year-over-year the collective of Canadian credit unions dominates the nation’s Ipsos Financial Services Awards for Customer Service Excellence. Just how do credit unions beat their big bank counterparts? As outlined in Believe in Banking: Credit union’s not-for-profit model gives them a big advantage. Not having to focus on shareholder return, this operating model “prioritizes member needs over profits and emphasizes personal interactions over efficiency.”

3. Invest in the Branch

Putting resources into influential branch locations provides credit unions with a powerful prototype that stands as a beacon in important growth markets. That’s what UW Credit Union when they partnered with Adrenaline to design and deploy an inviting space at their Verona Branch. UW incorporated an evolving brand into an environment that invites users in with its approachable yet modern sensibility that is both tech and touch-enabled. The branch harnessed meaningful tools that would strengthen and deepen member relationships and deployed them in a relaxed environment that feels like a third place for visitors to gather.

UW Credit Union Mapping Out a Meaningful Member Journey

4. Express Core Values

A brand refresh provided Citadel Credit Union a unique opportunity to build on the power of purpose. A local institution that has been the custodian of community trust for more than 80 years, Citadel did a deep dive into their own core values for their refreshed brand. Using powerful brand archetypes to tell the story of Citadel’s purpose, the updated brand leaned on internal values expressed externally as a unifying rallying cry. “All of these elements came together in their key brand idea, which is building strength – building from their legacy and using that strength for their brand expression,” says Juliet D’Ambrosio – which ultimately increased brand equity and awareness in their mission-critical home market. 

Citadel Credit Union Rebrand Case Study

For more credit union best practices, stay tuned to Adrenaline’s Insights channel for brand-to-branch approaches for financial institutions of all sizes. Also, see Believe in Banking as we track the big trends impacting financial services.  To learn more about customized strategies for your credit union or to speak to one of our financial industry experts, contact us at or (678) 412-6903.

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 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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