Canadian Credit Union Association looks to escape the burden of banking

To help members compete with the big banks, the association is focusing on personal goals instead of products.

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The Canadian Credit Union Association is looking to help its members challenge Canada’s Big Five banks by focusing on relatable costs and savings goals, instead of the intricacies of “banking.”

The new creative is building on the national “You First, Banking Second,” brand campaign launched in May, using folksy animations and social-friendly text-based videos to highlight how CCUA members put goals like buying a condo, paying for a child’s education or saving for wedding before the more obtuse aspects of finance – or the motivations banks have for offering additional services and products to customers.

“Traditional banking world is a strange world,” says Martha Durdin, president and CEO of the Canadian Credit Union Association. “Their brands declare that they’re always looking out for you, the customer, but their business model is designed to give profit primacy.”

CCUA’s members include Vancity, Coast Capital and Meridian, the three largest credit unions in the country based on asset size. Durdin says its research shows Canadians are open to exploring alternatives to the major banks, but that it needs to highlight what makes credit unions different in a way that has mass appeal, which is how it settled on focusing on people over service and product offerings.

“Most people want to ‘set it and forget it’ with their money, and consider finance in general a ‘burden’ category,” Durdin says, adding that shopping around for a financial partner isn’t appealing for consumers because they believe every option is the same and there’s little difference in the value they offer. “Once people know our approach, they are open to switching.”

Durdin says credit unions tend to outpace banks when it comes to customer service, citing Ipsos’ 2019 Financial Service Excellence Awards, which put “Canada’s Credit Unions,” an aggregate of individual credit unions across the country, number one in the Customer Service Excellence ranking. When it comes to conveying that message, Durdin says animation and text are flexible and lets CCUA portray a range of emotions and ideas.

“We needed to brand the entire category of credit unions, to unify them with a single voice so their value can be seen and their messages clear enough to compete with the Big Five and let Canadians know we have everything you’re looking for,” Durdin says, adding that there was a 20% increase consumers likeliness to consider a credit union after the initial campaign launch.

The campaign is running on social, native video and search in British Columbia and Ontario. Camp Jefferson handled the creative, with Media Experts on media buying.