Online branding & Vancity.

One of the things I love about the Vancity brand is that it’s complicated, and therefore a challenge to express succinctly. Vancity is a credit union that uses its profits to give money back to its members and the community. Sounds simple in a way, but there’s a complication as soon as we have to express how we do it and what it costs.

The more money Vancity makes, the more money it can give to the community, and it gives money in a myriad interesting and meaningful ways. Many prospects and members want to know what all this good work will cost them; surely they must pay extra. This sentiment always strikes me as odd – no one expects to pay more at a big bank when their stock prices are high, and yet they’re returning profits in the form of dividends to the shareholders. It’s the same with us, except the money goes to something meaningful.

So all of this is to say that when we launch a new brand campaign, it’s always tricky to engage people around our mission in a way that rings true and feels like us, but is still entertaining and works as marketing.

This week we are launching our 2007 TV spots, outdoor advertising and our web site to promote Vancity. This microsite launched yesterday, and I think it does a nice job conveying our brand and who we are. I’m curious what readers think.

Vancity | We All Profit

What’s the point of a homepage?

Because most banks have homepages that look like web portals from the 90s, I think a lot about the purpose and function of Vancity’s homepage. It’s not as cluttered as some, but not as clean as others.

Then, along comes Seth Godin’s article Blow Up Your Homepage. He says that your homepage is the page for newbies, not a real page people will use over and over again. That it’s akin to the old splash pages with a ‘skip intro’ button. With an Online Banking log in on the homepage, this isn’t as true for banks as it is for some, but still, a clarifying remark. Focus more on major internal pages (that we often neglect) and let the homepage be for those unfamiliar with your company.

Sounds obvious, but I found it rather helpful and timely.

Verity’s blog has kicked it up a notch.

Wow. I spend a lot of time looking at blogs and after a while they all start looking the same. But Verity Credit Union in Seattle has launched a new blog and has taken blog usability and readability to a whole new level.

By moving to 1024×768 they have three nicely sized columns to work with and they make a lot of their real estate. The left column works like you’d expect a blog to work. The middle column gives you easy access to different posts by department, laid out in a very graphically pleasing way. Really makes you want to click to find out more. And the right column surfaces the people who post and some other blogs they like. Impressive.

It was designed and built by the fine folks at Trabian. It’s one thing to know a lot about social media like Brent and Trey do, but to be able to design a site that’s attractive and functional, honestly this gives me a whole new appreciation for what they are capable of. Kudos to all of them, and Shari Storm, Verity’s CMO who has stuck with this and made it work better than anyone else. If you’re thinking of creating a corporate blog no matter what industry you’re in, you’d be well served to study what Trabian and Verity have done here.

Jim also gave it a rave.

Check it out, it’s well worth a visit.