As financial industry professionals, most of us are used to dealing with risk. For everything we do or manage at our community financial institution, there’s risk associated with it. Call it one of the burdens of working with money all day.

In our travels as consultants, we find that marketing is often thought of as the softer side of the bank or credit union. Less about hard numbers and more about making the FI look good. And while that may be true to some extent, it certainly doesn’t mean that marketing doesn’t deal with a common denominator across all of the business lines: risk.

One area of risk that we deal in is rebranding risk. That is, the risk associated with changing a bank or credit union’s name, logo, colors, brand essence, culture, website, or all of the above. Rebrands can be fun, and often times, much needed. However, that doesn’t take away the risk associated in changing or tweaking one’s identity and how that is presented to your customers or members, and the community.

When considering a rebrand for a client, like anyone dealing with risk, we do our best to try and mitigate the risk and anticipate challenges ahead of time. The primary way we do this is through front-end research. We seek to find out:

  • What is the internal culture like right now?
  • How do employees feel about the current brand? What would they like to change?
  • How do your current customers or members feel about your brand?
  • What is the current brand’s reputation in the community?
  • What are the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, heritage and core base?
  • And last but certainly not least: how would a rebrand affect all of these factors, and would it be something to grow into?

Rebranding, even if it comes from somewhere inconsequential – or further down the line of importance in a consumer’s mind – can have huge implications. Tweaking the brand around where people keep their money can be larger than life. It’s so much more than simply picking a new name and designing a cool, modern new logo.

Ignoring the research that must be done ahead of a rebrand can lead you down a path that can be hard to correct. Recently, a credit union inadvertently created an example of just how important research in rebranding can be.

The credit union in question was seeking to grow into a new name and brand that reflected an expanded geographic reach and larger field of membership. Due to this, the credit union focused the entirety of their research on how a new brand would affect those already outside of their walls. Only one slight problem with that: they forgot to ask their members how they felt about a new name and brand.

This violates two of MarketMatch’s golden rebranding risk rules:

  • Do not walk away from your heritage.
  • Do not lose touch with your base.

As a result, after the brand launched, the credit union experienced many negative repercussions. Membership and membership growth declined, assets declined and loan growth declined. To this day, they are still recovering from the losses experienced. These declines were not from a lack of interest in the new brand from the community. In fact, the community loved the “new” credit union. These all came as a result of member attrition.

Rebranding is truly that of an art and a science in one. The science has the ability to drive the art, making your bet on a rebrand a much less risky proposition.


Want to hear more about rebranding? Download our FREE white paper, Branding Without Limits!

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In addition to this blog, MarketMatch offers a great speaking session on branding, ready for your next conference or training session. Available in formats ranging from one hour to a full day session, attendees will leave feeling prepared to tackle their brand.

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