Vancity’s rebranding is all about its plan for the planet

The B.C.-based credit union is making fighting climate change a focal point of its equitable, for-the-people model.


Credit unions define themselves by putting people over profits, but now B.C.-based Vancity is giving the planet its own place on that list in a rebrand.

Vancity, a credit union of roughly half a million members in 54 areas of British Columbia, is revamping its brand positioning and visual identity to reflect a people- and planet-first ethos.

A campaign introducing the new brand, “Financial Force for Change,” begins with smokestacks and wild fires, showing how big the hurdles to fighting climate change are. But it defiantly implores consumers to not succumb to hopelessness and “join a movement that knows the climate crisis can be solved,” letting them know that every financial action they do with Vancity is part of being “a force for change.”

That’s referencing commitments Vancity has made to have net-zero carbon emissions across its entire lending portfolio by 2040, done in part through carbon offsets. The model of credit unions has always been meant to be more equitable, with any profits generated being invested back into the business to do things like providing better interest rates or reduce fees to make its products more accessible to more people; with its new positioning, Vancity is making climate initiatives part of that equitable model.

Kelly McNeill-Sproxton, VP of marketing at Vancity, tells strategy it’s done a lot of research with creative agency Taxi Vancouver (which became its AOR in March 2020) and tested its positioning with 2,000 British Columbians, internally and externally.

“The research is telling us that consumers are really looking to brands and organizations and in particular financial institutions to act and lead on things like climate and inequality,” she says. “We’ve always done work in those areas, but we see the opportunity to use that in our brand and position it as a highlight, so we can show how being a values-based cooperative can help us affect changes.”

“Financial Force for Change,” McNeill-Sproxton says, is also aimed at drawing customers away from the Big Five Canadian banks and leading by example. “We could see that the global financial sector was starting to really catch up with climate target announcements,” she says, and while Canadian banks are less bold, they are not too far behind.

Earlier this year, Vancity communicated a need to assist small business ravaged by the pandemic. When the crisis struck, Vancouver was hit particularly hard, losing 22% of its workforce last May and $27 billion in revenue.

McNeill-Sproxton says that the organization itself, however, entered the COVID crisis in a position of strength, after years of sustained growth. She adds that despite the challenges it still grew its membership and assets in 2020, and in the face of the pandemic, it was able to put in place lots of support for its members, like zero percent interest on credit cards.

Now though, its messaging is transitioning from the pandemic-focused one to highlight the crisis that is the environment. The credit union will introduce its new brand across different touchpoints, including Vancouver-area television, digital out of home, and social media, to make sure it is casting its messaging in the broadest possible way.

OpenMind handled the media buy for the campaign, with three flights of television, DOOH, online video, programmatic and display, and social through the end of the year.