Make Your Brand a Bastion

Trust is Your Irrevocable Bond.

For those following financial media, the Ides of March are all too real in 2023. Just a day following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s announcement of additional and more aggressive rate hikes, Silicon Valley Bank was shut down by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. The two events are inextricably linked, and the latter casts a thunderous storm cloud over the financial industry.

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) isn’t only the country’s 16th largest bank; it’s the bank for a significant portion of the nation’s startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. While media headlines decry its closure as the “second-biggest bank collapse in U.S. history,” the JXM team sees it as something even more devastating: a violation of trust. 

As a partner to community credit unions of all sizes across the country, we’re already seeing the fallout of SVB’s inability to keep its promises to customers. We’ll be the first to tell you that perception is reality, which means now’s the time for your credit union to become a bastion of trust for the communities you serve. 

People don’t trust what they don’t understand

Put all context aside for the moment and consider SVB’s closure from the standpoint of an everyday consumer. They just heard that a 40-year-old megabank failed overnight—it couldn’t cover deposits. Hundreds of small businesses were frozen out of their accounts, unable to run payroll, cover invoices, or transfer funds. A vast majority of the banked funds weren’t FDIC insured and are effectively gone. 

Scary, isn’t it? 

These same people remember the financial collapse of 2008, and they’re immediately set on-edge by the idea that their hard-earned money might not be safe or accessible to them. They don’t understand how financial institutions handle assets under management, which opens the door to fear, uncertainty, and unease. The only thing stopping them from a bank run of their own is trust in their financial institution of choice. 

Put their money where your mouth is

For many credit unions, community is the whole of their brand identity—often central to their charter. That means trust is more than a core value; it’s a fundamental pillar of operations. Almost invariably, earning a member’s business comes second to earning trust. To many community credit unions, trust is more important than anything that shows up on the balance sheet—and they’ll bend over backwards helping their communities to prove it. 

All of this is to say that in the face of SVB’s shutdown and an impending media firestorm about financial responsibility, credit unions need this trust more than ever—and they’re going to remind their members of just how much they value them.

Now, more than ever, let your members know you can trust them. Remind them of your ties to the community and the vested interest you have in the people who live there. Show them a level of service that earns trust at every interaction. Speak authentically, meaningfully, and righteously about your mission, values, and efforts. Above all, take the time to listen to the concerns of your community and address them. 

While there’s urgency in responding to SVB’s shutdown, there’s good news. Your message isn’t changing—it just needs amplifying. Putting the right message of trust and security in front of your local audience—in the right place, at the right time—will reassure them in your commitment to acting with integrity. See our work with Northwest Federal Credit Union, for example. 

Fortify against the narrative

SVB’s closure is likely to linger in the media for months, reappearing every time the fed raises rates, the stock market underperforms, or talk of the economy spurs. Each time it comes up, your customers will get a healthy dose of disparaging rhetoric from talking heads. Things are about to get rough for financial brands

Remember that you can’t control the media, and defense is often conflated with guilt. To fortify against the narrative, trust in what you do best: service excellence and quality guarantees. When they see \inflammatory news segments or read antagonizing headlines, you want their first thought to be “I’m so glad I bank with X credit union.” When they trust you as a paragon, they won’t fear the unknown. 

Want help shining a spotlight on your impeccable record of service, responsible banking practices, and strong community ties? Reach out to JXM and let us help you become the source of truth your community needs to feel safe during times of financial and economic uncertainty.