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Banks, credit unions carefully plan marketing efforts to attract consumers

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Midstate banks and credit unions expend great effort to create their brands.

Branding is incredibly important because if consumers “know we are here, they are more likely to bank with us,” said George Nahodil, executive vice president of retail delivery, public relations and marketing at Lower

Allen Township-based Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

Some Members 1st branches are new construction, while others are building rehabs, Nahodil said. With both original and acquired structures, Members 1st builds the exterior so there is a large window showcasing its signature logo. The buildings are brick and have illuminated signs.

“Actually, we put our Members 1st message in the brand,” Nahodil said.

Members 1st also has a highly recognizable superhero in CEO and President Bob Marquette. In an effort to grow its business 10 years ago, the company decided to advertise by havingMarquettedress as a superhero, complete with a cape and Members 1st logo on his chest.

“People pay attention,” Nahodil said. “We are here to serve people and cut through the clutter by using humor. It has worked.”

Members 1st was founded 62 years ago inCumberlandCounty. It has grown to 50 branches in seven counties.

LowerPaxtonTownship, Dauphin County-based Centric Bank, a small community bank, has three branches in two counties and next year is building a fourth branch. The company rebranded in 2007 and in 2011 was named one of Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies.

Branding is important because it not only makes the bank recognizable to consumers, it also enables people to associate the brand with a certain level of customer service, said Leslie Meck, senior vice president and chief retail officer.

Inside the branch, branding is especially important, she said. The bank’s financial centers are warm and welcoming with friendly employees and aromas of freshly baked cookies and gourmet coffee.

“Our financial centers have the same interior merchandising at each location, and we regularly review our facilities to ensure our posters, brochures and flyers are always crisp and current,” Meck said.

While two of its three branches are not custom builds, the interior and exterior of the branches were remodeled to create similarity, she said. Everything from signage and entranceways to stained glass is similar. Branches measure merchandising on a monthly basis in each location to ensure that they have the same marketing materials, she said.

“We have developed our teams to deliver a consistent and high-touch level of service to each and every client,” Meck said.

SwataraTownship, Dauphin County-based Metro Bank opened its first location in Camp Hill 17 years ago. With more than 30 branches, Metro can be found in six counties inCentral Pennsylvania.

Every branch is built from the ground up and follows a particular design, said Jason Kirsch, vice president and director of marketing and public relations. Uniformity in design is a branding tool the bank uses to ensure the customer experience is the same at every location, he said. Much of the bank’s successful growth is attributed to its branding process, he said.

“Consistent branding is a key to Metro Bank’s success,” Kirsch said. “Our brand is incorporated into everything we do — store design, signage and digital displays. However, it is important to note that branding is about much more than appearances. It’s about the customer service experience. The people who deliver that experience, our team members, are our brand.”

Metro promotes an inviting environment with plenty of windows and an open interior design, he said. Each store has a mural that focuses on a local historical event. In addition to providing promotional items, Metro asks its employees to wear their Metro lapel pins and dress in red each Friday to show brand pride.

Kirsch added: “The bank’s partnership with the Harrisburg Senators, through our sponsorship ofMetroBankPark, is another extension of our brand.”

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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