In 1940, Frank was preparing to marry the love of his life, Barb. Frank, a farmer in a poor rural community, saved for months in hopes to scrape together enough for a modest ring. But as their wedding day – September 20 – approached, Frank was still short on cash for his wife-to-be’s ring. He sought out a loan to make up the difference. When other banks wouldn’t loan him the $25 he needed, his local community bank did.
Nearly eight decades later, Frank and his wife are still in love – with each other and that bank. They still bank there and, according to Barb’s recently-completed bank survey, "couldn’t imagine banking anywhere else."
This is a story from one of our clients. It epitomizes what they stand for and how they do business. In essence, it’s come to be its brand: A Midwest-based community bank that’s been around since the 1800s, they pride themselves on helping others when no one else will. They have dozens of stories like this one that all connect with the crux of what their brand stands for – strong community relationships through support of its individuals.
Those who work at financial institutions know that the bulk of the workday is spent assisting customers with their transactions and making sure that all systems are operating effectively and securely. Is that work important? Absolutely. Compelling, when described in this manner? Not so much.
Every activity that occurs in a bank or credit union, large or small, is a difference maker for the people they affect. And finding your brand story is just a matter of looking beyond the transaction, getting to the human element behind the mechanics of banking.
Why Tell Your Stories?
Your stories help differentiate your company by creating a sense of connection and understanding that communicates your advantage far beyond theoretical concepts of banking products and good customer service.
People connect to stories. In many ways, stories allow you to communicate information about your company that audiences might ignore if placed in formal marketing communications.
Your audiences will see beyond a standard list of financial services and know that your company has something more to offer.
People will likely want to align themselves with your company, because your values seem to align with their own—giving you opportunities to deepen relationships with existing customers and develop relationships with potential ones.
Recently, we’ve seen a flood of community financial institutions invest in the power of brand. In a sea of sameness – predictable logo colors, similar mission statements, similar product offerings – it’s time for an awakening of sorts. As we work with FIs, we’ve seen how the power of finding your institution's stories can frame the definition of who you are and what your brand needs to communicate. We’re helping community FIs redefine their brands, and storytelling is at the heart of it all.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to communicate a brand’s values. Making a human connection through a story – rather than a recital of facts and product offerings – provides the opportunity to connect with an intriguing, authentic narrative and a strategic message that enhances the brand, customer relationship, and organization.
So, why aren’t you telling your story?
Every company has a story to tell, but have you ever been able to put your finger on what yours is (or should be)?
It’s probably easier than you think, and your story can practically write itself. So, how can you get started?
Discover the Stories
Start with your employees. Engage them in sharing their favorite experiences and encounters while working at the bank. Look for the human or emotional connection.
Don’t stop with one. There are many chapters and layers to your brand and your success. Keep looking for them.
Find the stories that connect with your mission and plan, then use them to convey key attributes of your brand. Is your bank consistently warm and thoughtful? Perhaps you lend to community members who other banks hesitate to take a chance on. Find your theme and tell stories that support it.
Successfully Share Them
Take care to articulate the story well. Include the emotion or element of humanity that will resonate with your audience.
…but keep it short and sweet. An impactful story is one that can be easily remembered and re-told. Focus on the problem, the solution, and the success.
Tie these stories to the value proposition that you offer your customers and community.
If you need help telling a compelling story—or help finding a strong story to tell—contact us.