Your Credit Union Narrative Matters. But Why?

Paul Garfunkel once said: “Human beings are nuanced and layered, and respect requires that we never categorize or label people by a single feature.” It’s a wonderful sentiment. But when it comes to perceiving things, human beings are not very nuanced. Our nature is to develop a story about a brand, a person or an experience and all the data that supports our narrative becomes a valid support point. And any facts that negate our narrative are discounted or completely ignored. That means, if you believe German cars are unreliable, you will notice every German car in distress on the side of the freeway but you won’t consider the thousands of other distressed cars and the tens of thousands German cars doing the work reliably. If you believe a friend of yours is cheap, you’ll forget those moments when he over-tipped and remember each time he barely scratched the 10 percent mark. This is normal human behavior. Everyone engages in this narrative: We do it to people, brands and institutions all the time. Right now, it’s happening to your credit union. You can try to convince others to look at the facts, the whole truth, everything you see, but it might not make a difference. You can look at your own experience with your credit union, how you want others to see you, convey the facts and do your best to align your reality with the reality of your members. But it’s not productive. It ignores how humans deal with narratives. The only way to change the narrative is to provide emotional interactions. People remember how brands helped them to get a job done. If you define your mission by the job to be done -- and your credit union is trying to provide members with the best way to get that job done – the narrative changes. Surprising members by helping them is more important than any marketing material you put out there because it changes the story your members tell about your credit union. Invest in helping them getting their jobs done, and everything you do as an organization will fit into that narrative. Everyone loves a good story. What’s yours?