Marketing 101: Create a genuine brand for your business

By Kelly Maloney, Special to The Mirror

Branding your business is about creating unique experiences from which your varied audiences can draw perceptions.

These perceptions are your brand.

That’s the gist of it, but were it only that simple.

Since opening its Federal Way branch in 2005, Red Canoe Credit Union has established itself as a community partner, sponsoring business, social and charitable events and activities that were important to their constituency.

This community stewardship is an extension of their brand promise.

“Banking should be friendly, easy and helpful,” said Amy Davis, vice president of marketing. “We’ve designed our brand to emulate that experience across all channels, especially the branch experience.”

To this end, Red Canoe’s employees are immersed in training that exemplifies this commitment, resulting in a unique customer experience and, in turn, an increase in brand equity for the financial institution. Brand equity is an intangible asset that can be measured through a customer’s willingness to choose one company’s product or service over another simply because of the brand.

Many people get confused about what a brand is. It’s not a logo, though your logo is one component of your brand. It’s not a tag line, though your tag line is another brand component. It is the sum of all your offerings and all your organization does, internally and externally, from customer service to product lines, from quality to leadership, from how customers are greeted and treated to the company’s integrity.

All of this and more rolls into your audience's perceptions of what you are. That is your brand.

And, now that you’ve established yourself as a brand, the goal is to become a “genuine brand.”

According to Duane Knapp, author of "The Brand Mindset," “A genuine brand is the internalized sum of all impressions received by customers and consumers resulting in a distinctive position in their mind's eye based on perceived emotional and functional benefits.”

As an example, when thinking of coffee houses, which company jumps to mind? Dunkin Donuts? Seattle’s Best? Starbucks?

Though it’s almost cliche nowadays to use Starbucks as a branding icon, it’s the best example to show genuine brand in action.

It’s still too early to tell whether Red Canoe will develop into a genuine brand. But all indications are that it’s possible.

“Red Canoe is a name that tells our story of delivering a distinctly Northwest style, which the canoe embodies,” said Bridget O’Connor, business development specialist. “The name reflects our commitment to being more caring, responsive and passionate (red) about our members’ dreams.”

Emotionally, Red Canoe reaches out to fulfill customers’ dreams through its products and services, all the while consistently messaging its community stewardship and providing an overarching consistent brand experience.

Now it’s up to the community to decide whether Red Canoe is the “credit union Starbucks” of the South Sound. They are well on their way.

Federal Way resident Kelly Maloney is owner of in | house communications. Visit Follow her on Twitter at Blog:

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