CU Water Cooler

Milkshake It Up

Lisa Kuhn PhillipsComment

Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and disruptive innovation expert, makes us think, doesn’t he?  He inspired me to look for answers to these strategic questions:

Why did we “get hired” as a financial institution? What have we “sold?” How do we ensure it creates a healthier, wealthier and wiser membership? 

So back to the fast food story. The job that the credit union “milkshake” was hired to do met that member’s short-term need and want. Did it exceed and truly create a valued, long-term relationship between the member and credit union? Don’t get me wrong, that member keeps coming back for a shake. It’s served with a smile, gives her a stable something to do with her time and helps her get on with her day, but are we doing anything to help her with her not-so-healthy, wealthy nor wise weekly habit?

Are these the typical relationships that many credit unions have prepared for and served up through our collective efforts? If so, how’s that job working for—the member, the credit union itself and the community at large? Are we a healthier, wealthier and wiser community for the job we’ve done?

Or maybe, just maybe, your credit union has been able to move your members from a “job you were hired to do” into “work you are actively engaged to grow with” as partners? Has your message centered on getting in shape together, engaging in real discovery and finding out how to best serve it up?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, consider these options:

  • Healthy engagement. Let’s learn, listen and serve our members over time with a money matters approach of fitness and moderation built on the save, spend and reasonable borrow  concepts. Let’s blend technology for ease with human connectedness for care.
  • Wealthy engagement. Is our work about members’ amassing money? Or making the members wealthier in financial behavior for their own peace of mind? Depends on the lifestyle and your target. So approach service from a seek to understand view, then share for beneficial purpose. We should be stewards and help people live within their means.
  • Wise engagement. We prosper through mutual understanding and positive actions that make us learn our lessons and share our truths. A long-term relationship can handle hard truths and real vulnerabilities when delivered in wise, personally connected ways.  

So what does all of this have to do with building our brand? Our product, pricing, promotion, placement, people and payment choices? Everything, if you intend to influence the hearts, heads and souls of your members and potential ones.  Finding that delicate blend of engaging with, and then shaping up, those we serve. We have the P’s of marketing, now it’s time to get all the parts in better shape. How will you measure success? (Yet another blog and one ripe for innovative disruption as well.)

Three steps to a better brand message and culture

  1. Market (brand) consistency. Our people, practices, processes and communication must be connected with the message. Engage with purposeful financial sharing and deliver with human context and consistency. Practice makes…performance results.
  2. Operational agility. Our work disciplines, people, processes and programs should strive to create ease in understanding and follow-through. Decisions and actions should support long-term value and create necessary short-term revenues for the credit union and most importantly, its membership.
  3. Technology integration. Our channels and connections should be designed and aligned with an agile (and security stable) infrastructure, effectively leveraged service provider partnerships, intelligent data analysis, and social media connectedness (that’s your feedback loop, free of charge).

Listen, educate and amaze members through brand consistency, operating agility and technology integration. You’ll watch the real relationships grow and the revenue rewards will follow—in dollars and common sense.

So milkshake it up.  Get brand connected. Stay agile. Integrate technology. Offer your membership healthier, wealthier, and wiser financial choices.


Lisa Kuhn Phillips lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, growing over 24+ years as a creative catalyst and conscious capitalist. She shares thoughts and insights into the why, who, what and how (the order is important) of brand relevance for results. Her work passion revolves around Money Matters because money matters for everyday people. Her real passion revolves around Grant and Avery.