If you need Millennials, feel you have a bland brand, believe that you are truly vital to your community, are tired of looking and acting like every other darn bank and credit union in your market, and you have the guts … here’s an idea.

I’m sorry my dear financial marketing reader! I’ve been sitting on an idea for some time now … just waiting … waiting for the right opportunity … for the right client … for the planets to align with the right strategic direction.

I’m still waiting. So, if I can’t cultivate and harvest the idea myself, at least I can pull a Johnny Appleseed … plant the seed of the idea and move on.

Here’s what motivated the big idea:

  • Banks and credit unions say that they want … nay, they NEED Millennials.
  • Millennials don’t trust or really care about banking.
  • CUs’ and community banks’ best advantage is their tie to their community.
  • Some may be bigger or cleaner or more “modern”, but in the end, a branch is a branch.

So, if you need Millennials, feel you have a bland brand, believe that you are truly vital to your community, are tired of looking and acting like every other darn bank and CU in your market, and you have the guts … here’s an idea.


There are themed hotels and restaurants, but I’m not aware of any themed financial branches.


  • A community bank in Cleveland, near the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, decorated in rock memorabilia, played rock music and let their staff dress in jeans and leather jackets? What if they celebrated the anniversaries of great achievements in Rock? And had a small stage set up where people could take selfies as rock stars. (Imagine how this could be tweaked for Nashville or the Hollywood Walk of Fame)
  • A military credit union, like Wright-Patt here in Dayton (or I’m looking at you Navy Federal), decorated their branches to look like an Air Force museum with plane parts and models and posters detailing key military battles? What if the staff wore flight suits? Or had a mock-cockpit where people could post selfies as a fighter pilot. 
  • My town of Xenia, Ohio claims to be the “Bicycle Capital of the Midwest.” What if a community bank or CU here decorated in bikes and provided maps online of the local bike paths? What if they invested in a new bike path being built or improved? What if people could take a selfie on one of those pre-1900s bikes with the giant front tire – would they post it? (I’m drawing a line here … no dressing the staff in bike shorts. Sorry, but that’s just weird! Logoed bike jerseys are perfectly OK, however.)

There are a few rules if you’re going to theme your branches:

  • The theme must speak to something unique to your community (and preferably to Millennials)
  • The themes can be different from branch to branch depending on the size of your footprint.
  • You need to have fun with it! You have to willing to go a bit over-the-top.
  • It should be interactive.
  • You need to consider all 5 human senses when planning how you’d execute your theme. The more senses you engage the better.
  • Completely own the theme. It goes beyond decorations, music and dress code. It should be able to create unique events and new opportunities for community involvement.
  • Everything that you choose to do must have the result of getting customers to say, “Did you see what this branch is doing?!? How frickin’ cool!!!”

Millennials will likely change banking, just like they’ll change most everything else. But they will always have a need to borrow money, put money safely aside and access their money … they will always need banking. As you look to how you will evolve to keep up, remember, with Millennials:

  • They want to engage with brands on social networks
  • They are brand loyal
  • They’ll engage with brands that support what they believe in (hobbies, politics, whatever)
  • They do not, necessarily, want traditional models
  • They expect brands to give back to society
  • They are using multiple tech devices (between 2-3 devices on a daily basis)
  • They want to co-create products and services and to be a part of building your company to fit their needs
  • Being “cool” and “sexy” matters.

So, there it is … the big idea that I’ve been waiting for the right bank or CU for. If it’s you, please let me know all the fun stuff that you do. If you’re a Millennial, please let me know what you think of a themed branch. If you’re already doing this, please share!

If you find it fun and helpful, please share this blog with your colleagues. Also, check out our YouTube Channel for short video blogs about financial marketing.  

In addition to being a strategic consultant, MarketMatch is also a nationally and internationally requested speaker. Contact us to bring our marketing ideas to your institution or next conference.

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