Branding as best decision from CEO Scott Olson

I am so thrilled to have such an impact with a credit union. I am fortunate to work with such a great team, and we are so honored to be working with Scott Olson, Koren Kent, and the rest of the Cities CU team on developing and refining their brand. Here’s what Scott had to say after our initial branding work with them:

“Cities Credit Union is a smaller credit union located in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Up until three years ago, we were a totally SEG based credit union serving the area’s telephone company employees. Because of phone company consolidation and other cost cutting measures, we felt it best to apply for a community charter in order to diversify our membership base.

After receiving a community charter, we began advertising through a variety of media including: direct mail, newspaper ads, business visitation and even television advertising. We were under the impression that we were doing the right things to promote our credit union. We had some success, but we knew that we were capable of achieving so much more. It was at that time that we sent our Marketing Officer to an conference in Portland, Oregon.

Our Marketing Officer came back from this conference totally changed and totally focused on Branding. After hearing and reading what was taught at the conference, we decided that what was lacking in our business plan was a Brand Strategy.

We began our Branding Company search in the fall of 2005. We considered several local companies as well as ones that were nationally recognized. The one company that seemed to “stick out” was EverythingCU. EverythingCU not only taught, but lived their own unique brand in the fact that they deal exclusively with credit unions. After all, we say credit unions are unique, but do we act that way with our business practices? EverythingCU was a testimony to that uniqueness.

The decision to choose EverythingCU to find our unique brand was one of the best decisions I’ve made as the President/CEO.

EverythingCU took the parts of our business that we had a competitive advantage in and showed us how we can emotionally connect that with our membership. We found that:
• Our advertising was doing very little or nothing in making us known in our community.
• That we had only a product driven marketing approach.
• While our current members liked and trusted us, they likely would not recommend us to a friend or family member.
• Our competition was not other credit unions, but large banks.

We also found that even the very large credit unions in our area (who have a marketing budget in the millions) are still virtually unknown. This to me was amazing!

We’ve only gone through the beginning stages of our Branding process and I’ve already seen a huge change in our staff, our members, and our community outlook. Our staff is engaged, excited and ready to tell our story. Our members have already commented on the positive changes they’ve seen and felt as well. They seem to linger a little longer in our lobby and chat. They’ve also started telling others.

I am anxious and excited for the rest of our story to be discovered. Even if the process stopped right now, our credit union has been forever changed. Not only will we be successful in telling our story, but we’ll have a fabulous time doing it. That’s what the credit union movement is all about!!”

–Scott Olson, President/CEO, Cities Credit Union, St. Paul Minnesota

*Added May 27: For an update on Cities CU results from branding, check out Scott’s new letter.


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