When Finance Brands Go Wild

companion-monster After MyFutureBank’s a well publicised “experiment” and withdrawal from social media and the surreal and poorly contextualised Truthpod (courtesy of Westpac), it would be easy to suggest that finance marketers had had their fill of the social media space. Or perhaps, had bitten off more than they could chew.

Yet it seems this is not the case.

Clearly, with Forrester research indicating that 75% of Australians participating in some form of social media, consumer brands have LITTLE CHOICE other than begin to engage with their customers in this way. After all, it is where we are CHOOSING to spend our time and precious attention.

But what happens when a finance brand escapes into the wild? What happens when a business truly asks for the input of its community? Companion Credit Union decided to find out. The Financial Brand blog has some great coverage of this rebranding campaign here.

With a new theme of “We’re Listening”, Companion put their brand on the line and asked their members to vote on a new logo. As the CEO, Ray O’Brien said, “The credit union is really owned by the members and therefore we decided we should invite them to actively participate in helping us decide”.

Over 1000 votes were received (from a member base of about 12,000) … and a new blog has been setup to help the credit union really “get back to it’s roots”. They are even supporting Movember. So what does a customer selected logo look like?


The real opportunities for brands and social media are for those looking to transform their relationships with their customers … so it is encouraging to see brands from a relatively conservative market capitalising on these opportunities. And in a tight market (well, really, in any market), a social media strategy can not only help you stand apart from your competitors, it can also drive value back to your community – which is a great fit for credit unions and other member-based businesses.

Companion is certainly one financial service brand to watch – and as their ongoing marketing and social media strategy evolves, I expect there will be some real insight and proof points around the way that brands can grow and extend their reach and engagement via the micro-interactions that we take for granted. And this is one of the core values of social media for brands – that the difference between what your customers INTEND and the way they BEHAVE disappears – and you are left with a sentiment that contributes to (or detracts from) your brand promise. More power to the community!

UPDATE: Companion Credit Union and Community CPS Australia have now become Beyond Bank – you can find their new site here. Let’s hope they continue the innovation!

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7 thoughts on “When Finance Brands Go Wild

  1. Thanks for mentioning the Companion campaign Gavin.
    We are really proud of what they are doing with “We’re listening”. Its a very genuine desire to start a conversation with their members.
    I think its a very brave move for any financial institution but Companion are really beginning to embrace it as a cultural change and not just as a slogan.

  2. Hi Gavin. Thanks for link love. Just a wee clarification: our research shows 75% of *online adults* in Australia regularly use social tools in some way.

  3. Craig … it will be interesting to watch this rollout over time!
    Steven … will adjust, thanks.
    Katie … member organisations are such a good fit for social media that I don’t understand why they are not whole-heartedly embracing it. Oh, that’s right, they get their advice from … (vested interests)

  4. “The real opportunities for brands and social media are for those looking to transform their relationships with their customers”
    Great point Gavin, and I would add that the companies that will be the big winners are the ones that are transformed by the connections they make with their customers, via social media as well.

  5. Thanks for the great post Gavin. In the very conservative and high liability business of real estate we share a lot of the concerns as the financial services sector when it comes to releasing control of our message and our brand. And, like the financial services sector, we are hit hardest by the market downturn. We must change how we relate to our customers in order to survive this economic cycle. Thanks for the great example of Companion Credit Union and their campaign.

  6. Fantastic steps by Companion. Constantly talking to clients about letting go and allowing customers to collaborate/participate in the creation and development of the brand and business. Key here is that brands don’t have to let go completely – they can still have control. The Hawthorne Effect tells us simply that people naturally like participating, on any level, as long as it’s meaningful. Also states that once they do, they become more positive inclined and firmer advocates of it to others. I wish Companion all the best

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