Tag Archive for credit unions

Working Out and “Fixing” Culture


I’ve seen and heard it time and again.

“We’re going to fix our culture.” Or,

“For the next six months we’re going to focus on our people.” Or,

“I hope we can get our morale issue under control so we can get back to business.”


Don’t get me wrong — those are good things to do, but imagine if you took this approach to a health and wellness program. In fact, many of us have had this very experience (don’t judge me). It usually begins around January 1, doesn’t it? Or when we get ready to go to the beach for the first time over the summer. We get really motivated to get in better shape, eat right, and so on. We buy gym memberships and workout clothes that fit a little snugly (because after all, we’re going to lose weight, right?) and march off to the gym, determined that this time will be different. This time we won’t give up in March. We’ll at least give it until June.

We all know that to get lasting results in the health arena, we have to continually manage ourselves in this area. We have to keep eating right, and we have to keep getting to the gym to exercise. It’s an ongoing thing, or at least it should be.

The same is true in regards to group culture. In our organizations, we too often try to stick band-aids on culture issues rather than taking a long-term, strategic approach to them. Rather than understanding that culture is an ongoing initiative, we relegate it to some sort of temporary project.

lazy guySix months later we end up on the couch, our fingertips orange with Cheetos, and remnants of fried chicken from two days ago clinging to our sweats. We’re  bothered that we can’t fit into our workout clothing; but not bothered enough to actually do something about it on an ongoing basis.

There’s always next year.

The Old Branding Bait n’ Switch (Guest Post)

cbEver been the victim of a “bait and switch”?  See an ad for something at a great price, almost too good to be true.  You go to the store, or website…and they’re out of stock.  But there are other items available, substitutes, usually.  And they’re almost always different enough or more expensive enough that you don’t buy.  You took the bait, they switched the goods, and you’re left feeling misled and mistreated.  That can’t help that company’s reputation, can it?

That’s what happens when organizations don’t think about their own culture and align it with their marketing efforts.  And it’s a common fail.

Most organizations think: here’s a product, here’s a service.  How can we sell it?  What’s the key message?  What’s cool now?  What will catch folks’ eye?  How can we appeal to our target demographic?  The effort to create marketing and advertising is built around the product, and the medium we’re using, and the folks we’re trying to reach. Makes sense, right? But all too often, the product/customer/media discussion leads to one type of message…which the culture of the CU or company can’t support.  (I work in the credit union industry…thus the reference to CUs.  This theory easily applies to all companies.)

Consider a radio spot with young adults talking about where they bank.  One of them says his CU is great.  Nice people, friendly, fast.  And the ad works.  A young person comes into a branch… and the switch is complete.  There are tellers…but there’s a line.  There are forms to fill out.  It’s right before lunch… and that teller isn’t thinking “friendly”…she’s thinking, “hungry.”  That potential member….maybe now, not so much.

The ad worked – but it hadn’t considered the culture.  In this case, the culture couldn’t support the outreach.  The actual experience didn’t match the advertised experience.  Bait and switch.

When effective organizations think about marketing, they think NOT JUST product, media, target.  They think culture.  They ask themselves: who are we, how do we behave, and can we support the advertised experience through our people, processes and behaviors.

And keep in mind: culture is not what you say.  It’s what you DO.  Culture is the sum total of all the behaviors in your CU.  Align them with your marketing, and potential members will become actual members.

Too many people say (when referring to their logo), “But, that is our brand.”  Your organization’s brand is not a color or image.  Your brand is the emotion that people feel when thinking about your organization or seeing your logo.  Much like culture is not what you say, a brand is not what you do…but rather, how you make people FEEL.

Have you strategically woven together your marketing efforts, brand, and culture?  It’s still early enough in the year to revisit strategic goals.  Make sure your marketing efforts and brand truthfully tell your members and customers who you are, what you do, and leave them feeling something positive.  Tell your story honestly and avoid the old “bait and switch.”


Deb Schaffer, Queen of Conversation for Chatter Yak.  Chatter Yak! is credit union marketing made simple. Cooperative. Collaborative. CUSO. (www.chatteryak.com, @chatteryak, @debschaffer)

Credit Unions and Cain’s Wife

The following is a snippet from an article of mine running over at CUInsight today. Check it out:

“Where’d Cain get his wife? It’s a question that’s plagued religious skeptics and believers alike—at least the curious ones—for centuries.

Some argue that…well, how shall we say…Cain didn’t have many potential mates outside folks he was related to. So…um…”

You’ll have to head over to CUInsight to check out the rest! Cheers!