Close your eyes and picture a typically old western movie. You probably see a dusty cowboy riding a horse, an old saloon, and that one bank in the town with a well-liked banker. The simplicity of this banking scene is now overwhelmed by the competitive nature of modern banking, where everyone’s competing for the same customers. However, the customer-driven, community-based model of the western-movie banks shouldn’t be forgotten. We should strive to build banks at the center of our communities, branding them into well-known institutions seen as both dependable and inherently valuable.
The first step in developing a brand strategy to encourage customer loyalty is to create messaging that highlights your brand’s personability. Consumers want to create relationships with brands that feel genuine and approachable. According to Gibbons Peck Marketing Communications, “research shows that people build cognitive files for their favorite brands in a mechanism similar to that used to remember important people.” Meanwhile, people’s perceptions of a brand are reinforced by physical senses, which contribute to the understanding of the brand as a whole. For example, when customers walk into the space, the sights, sounds, and even smells can subconsciously contribute to their perception of your brand. To implement this theory in your own business, it is important to develop brand practices that keep customers coming back. Things as simple as home-y decor and genuine customer service can make your bank stand out from the crowd, and help people remember the values that your bank portrayed. For more information about the psychology and strategy of bank branding, check out this article from Gibbons Peck: 3 reasons community bank branding builds customer loyalty.
Another strategy for branding a CDFI bank is community involvement. The anecdote of the old town banker serving as an active member of the community should be what your bank strives to do. Your institution should look to be a recognizable figure who contributes to the good of the community as a whole. Community involvement as a financial institution should include not only helping to sponsor/finance community events, but also attending events to put a face to the financial name. More tips for brand development through community building can be found here: How community financial institutions can win at brand building.
Lastly, offering free financial resources to those in need can establish your bank as charitable and community-driven. This strategy reinforces your brand’s authenticity. By specifically focusing on providing resources to younger audiences, you can help increase financial literacy within your community, and set up connections with young people who may seek your services in the future. Don’t just take our word for it, look at EVERFI, a digital global financial literacy platform taught to K-12 grade students. The organization suggests that strategic brand development can yield long-term results for your brand. Read more of their tips here: Community Bank Marketing Ideas So Good You’ll Want to Steal Them.
All-in-all community banking is competitive, and customers care about the values and causes that your bank supports. When it comes to brand development, representing your brand as an active community member and a cause-driven organization, will develop attention from your target markets generating new business, while reinvigorating loyalty with existing customers.