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.

Environmental sustainability as commoditizition insurance.

Wow, that title is a mouthful.

I’ve been thinking about Bank of America a bit lately. As most readers of an FI blog will undoubtedly know, they are making a $20 Billion investment in environmental sustainability over the next 10 years. The money will go to many different things: A big chunk of the money will go to lending to businesses looking to create a more sustainable enterprise. They will also take a more environmentally friendly approach to their own business operations. And lastly, and to me most interestingly, they are rolling out products that have an environmental focus like a WorldPoints Rewards for the Environment (credit card), The Green Mortgage Program and Environmental Home Equity Program.

Sound familiar? It sounds a lot like the things that Vancity, the company I am contracting at does. They have a Clean Air Auto Loan, a Climate Change Mortgage, a Bright Ideas Home Reno Loan and an enviroVISA. Why would BofA do this? I am going to assume that this is a genuine move. I can’t imagine that a company would commit $20 Billion into something they didn’t believe in from both a values and business point of view.

In a vertical where it’s nearly impossible to differentiate yourself based on products, this is a very smart move. If accounts, credit cards, mortgages etc are simply commodities at this point, no different at bank A than at Bank B, then BofA knows that it’s not going to keep or grow its market share by staying the course. It has to stand for something and have a brand that is different from the rest of the players on the marketplace. It will become the green bank, and make a big enough investment into that aspect of its business, that it can truly define its place in the market based, in part, on that.

It must have looked into the future and decided that the environment was going to become a critical issue for consumers over the next ten years and they wanted to get out front early and lead the way. It’s gutsy and brave at this point when so many Americans are still tuned out on the issue. It also has interesting repercussions for a company like Vancity. Granted, Vancity’s a regional player in a different country, but if, say, TD Canada Trust follows suit and does something similar, what would make Vancity unique in the eyes of the consumer? I had never guessed that a big company could compete with a credit union on these types of initiatives.

Now, to be fair, Vancity does all sorts of things around the underbanked and underserved and helping those in poverty start to build asset. But from a consumer point of view, they’re primarily known for their green initiatives. How long will that perception of leading the “green” way last, I wonder. It’s going to be a challenge for the business, but hopefully one that is very good for the environment. It’s especially a challenge that Credit Unions are going to have to start dealing with sooner rather than later.

Net.Finance Day Three

Well the standout today at Net.Finance was Michael Seaton. He’s a great presenter who knows how to tell his story effectively without PowerPointing to death. It was great content, relevant and useful. I wonder about the sophistication of the crowd with social marketing, but I think he gave everyone something big and real to think about.

I feel a little bad that Vancity spent good money sending us out and the information is either too esoteric or too high-level and vague. Presenters need to give real world examples, challenges, successes, failures, metrics, results, stories. You know, actionable information to help the rest of us build business cases and spread the gospel of the web as a marketing, communications and engagement tool for our customers and prospects.

I am excited about tomorrow. For me, this is where all the exciting stuff is.

Okay, off for some Mexican food. Great Mexican food is about the only thing I miss about LA. I lived like two blocks from the BEST.