At First Commonwealth, we believe as consumer demands and behaviors evolve, we must continually evolve as well. This includes how we develop our brand strategy and how we communicate our story in the communities we serve. To differentiate our brand and optimize our brand-building investments, we’ve strategically repositioned our brand to be one that is purpose-driven and people-centric.
In 2017, we launched our innovative social retail strategy, including free Financial Wellness programs. In 2018, we launched our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, including the First Commonwealth WE Thrive Foundation. We believe it’s both our responsibility and privilege to give back to our communities. Our investments in marketing, financial wellness, employee development, community impact and CSR are centered on communicating our positive impact to the individuals, families, businesses and communities we serve.
Member success stories, our purpose, our values, financial education and community impact are at the center of our brand messaging. This doesn’t mean we don’t advertise or market our products. It simply means our brand building initiatives are focused on purpose and people and our product marketing initiatives are focused on leveraging technology and business intelligence to segment and personalize. When explaining our why internally and externally, we often say we’re “in the people business” not the money business.
To support our brand strategy, we’ve focused on developing and optimizing integrated marketing programs through a balance of digital marketing, traditional marketing, social media, financial wellness programs and CSR. Increasing team member engagement and accelerating our impact were also key success factors, so in 2018 we launched five CSR teams to get our team members excited about and involved in our strategic community initiatives. Our CSR teams include: Community Events & Engagement; Financial Wellness; Sustainability; Scholarships; Diversity & Inclusion; and, Contributions & Partnerships. Our CSR teams and the many team members throughout First Commonwealth (and their families) who participate in and support CSR events and activities have had the greatest positive impact on spreading our message of purpose throughout the community.
Our CSR activities enable us to continually curate and collect incredible community impact and employee engagement stories to then share via press releases, social media, newsletter, etc. The positive benefits of our CSR efforts are exponential as we’re seeing increased member growth and engagement, as well as increased team member engagement and satisfaction.
We’re humbled that First Commonwealth is also being recognized both on the regional and national level for the positive impact we’re making in our communities and the industry. The First Commonwealth Community Events & Engagement CSR Team recently won the Spirit of Volunteerism Award and the President’s Award from Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley. First Commonwealth was named 2018 Best Credit Union by Lehigh Valley Business, 2018 Best Transaction Experience by Member XP and awarded 2018 Best Branch Experience by ATM Marketplace and Mobile Payments Today at the 2018 Bank Customer Experience Summit.
With increased national, regional, online and FinTech competition, it’s critical for credit unions to look to the future and work to ensure relevancy and sustainable growth. A key factor in the success of any growth strategy is keeping up or catching up with the continually evolving product, service and technology demands of younger members. Research shows that younger consumers (Gen Y and Z) want brands to stand for something bigger than profits and many are willing to pay more, advocate for and align their purchasing behavior with brands whose values align with their own. We’re experiencing the positive business and community impact of this in leading with our purpose.
In fact, the positive impact of our brand strategy goes beyond member growth to our team member recruiting and retention efforts. We’re more than a year into our focus on putting purpose and people at the center in our brand messaging and almost all new team members say they were attracted to First Commonwealth because they see what we’re doing in the community and want to be part of an organization that prioritizes opportunities to do good and give back.
Source: PCUA Key Notes
Submitted by: Caitlin Stibitz, Vice President of Marketing for First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union