If you polled your member or customer base, what do you think they would say about your institution? Are you a bank that's trustworthy or a credit union that truly cares? The way you interact with your staff has a direct effect on the way your staff, in turn, interacts with your customers. To make sure the public face of your brand puts its best foot forward, corporate culture is critical.

Here are three ways in which positive bank or credit union culture impacts your public brand perception.

We're Human

One of the primary perspectives many consumers have on financial institutions is that they're... well... institutional. There's an inherent coldness perceived, particularly in mid-size to larger banks. A study from the Harvard Business Review found that connecting more consumers to a brand at an emotional level improves sales growth by more than 50%. You need to think of your bank or credit union first and foremost as a brand that is subject to the scrutiny of the general consumer. This can start with your internal culture. If your staff has a human connection to the products you're selling (i.e., the emotional benefits, the community impact, etc.), your customers and members see it in the service they receive. Make sure to regularly share stories of success with your team—that family that was able to buy its first house thanks to a mortgage from your FI, or that student who can now go to college due to your FI's student loan program. Bring some humanity to your conversations.

We love the community

When you institute initiatives within your organization that emphasize giving back and investing in the community, it reflects well on you as a brand. Organizing employees to pick up trash, serve at local shelters or support a fledgling little league team—whatever level you're willing to commit—is a prime opportunity to show your town pride. The key is making sure there is photographic evidence of your efforts and that you're sharing your story cross-platform. According to a survey from Good.Must.Grow, as many as 64 percent of adults intentionally make purchases from socially responsible brands, while 26 percent outright avoid ones that are not. Show your caring side as a business, and it can pay off in dividends.

We're ethical

One key concern that consumers have with banking institutions is trust. Whether it's national news stories, high-profile errors or even misplaced ethics concerns, consumers are predisposed to distrust in bank and credit union brands. (After all, per findings from Scratch, nearly three-fourths of millennials would prefer a trip to the dentist to a trip to the bank.) While you can't get around this inherent, ingrained feeling, you can take steps to set yourself apart from the pack. Start with your internal culture. Stress the importance of putting the customer or member first in all dealings—upsells are important, but make sure you're positioning products that are truly useful to a particular consumer. If your target audience can see that each employee, down to your customer service representatives, aren't after their money at all costs, they'll be more inclined to place their trust (and their wallets) with you.

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