Does Your Bank or Credit Union Need a Chipotle Checkup?

By now you have probably heard about the many woes facing the Chipotle Mexican Grill brand. Beset by food safety concerns, the chain actually took the step of closing all its stores for four hours earlier this year to conduct a company-wide staff meeting about food safety. Whether or not this helps heal the crippled brand is debatable.

What Chipotle essentially did was order the “all-stop” maneuver, well known in naval terminology. In an “all-stop” scenario, the captain orders the engine room to bring all engines to a condition in which they are no longer driving the ship.

While the Chipotle example is one of extremes, there is a lesson there for banks and credit unions. If your brand and consumer engagement was floundering to the point where you needed to issue an “all-stop” order, what would you do?

Obviously, banks and credit unions don’t have the luxury of closing for four hours during a regular business day. However, you could certainly call an employee brand meeting on a Saturday or federal holiday (Columbus Day, for example). Sure, nobody’s going to be too excited about it, but if it involves the actual success or failure of your brand, it’s necessary.

What are some of the signs your bank or credit union might need a Chipotle “all-stop” moment? See the following:

  • Negative social media buzz. Keep an eye on what consumers are saying about you on review sites, as well as your own social media platforms. Is it mostly positive, or are you being torn apart for poor service, pricing, etc.?
  • Competitors gaining an edge. Is the bank or credit union down the street rolling out an exciting new product more often than you? Have they gained the technological advantage in digital products and services? Are you no longer at the forefront of the things your consumers need and want out of the financial institution?
  • Decreased sales/wallet share. This is a fairly easy one to track. Are your sales down, year-over-year? What about your product penetration? If so, these are tell-tale signs that your brand is in trouble.
  • Drop in brand/advertising awareness funds. Unfortunately, anytime there is a budget crunch, branding and marketing tends to take the first hit. Actually, the exact opposite should be true. Take a look at your branding budget. Has it gone down consistently, year after year, Or does your bank or credit union recognize the importance and value branding will contribute to that line item accordingly?
  • Lack of executive management team buy-in. Nothing will sink your brand quicker than a CEO (or other C-Suite executives) that just don’t care about it. It causes a poisonous trickle-down effect. When other employees see that the brand doesn’t matter to the people to whom they report, they have no real reason to adhere to it themselves. If your executive management doesn’t lead the brand, your staff can’t live it and your consumers will never love it.

If your bank or credit union faces one or more of the above examples, it may be time to call the “all-stop” and have a serious brand discussion with your entire staff. Hopefully, you recognize the signs early enough and quick action can make a difference. The captain of the Titanic called and “all-stop” after his vessel hit the iceberg—You know the rest of the story.

Want more from On the Mark Strategies? The agency’s Communications Director, Taylor Wells, will present to the NWCUA Marketers Conference in Portland April 8, on the Membership Growth Recipe: Business Development & Community Relations. Registration is open online.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

Posted in Events, Marketing & Communications, NWCUA.