notification lettersWe often think about credit union branding as the sexy and exciting part of marketing and advertising: logos, corporate culture, retail environments, colors, advertising design and so on. Have you thought about the impact your credit union’s notification letters have on your branding? Yep, those boring, necessary letters about late payments, dormant accounts and overdrafts can actually increase loyalty and drive home branding messages (or not).

Make sure to mirror your credit union’s brand in the voice or tone.

Refer back to your credit union’s style guide (you do have one of those, don’t you?) to compare the tone of voice spelled out there is reflected in the notification letters. Is your financial institution one that is very formal and has a straight-forward tone of voice? Or are you friendly and like to use conversational tones in your marketing materials? Whatever your tone is, use it in your official letters as well to reinforce your brand. Doing so will build credibility and trust with your members as they will recognize the tone for being what they usually hear when interacting with your credit union through marketing, advertising and personal interactions.

One of our clients wanted their letters to sound more helpful and remind members of their credit union benefits. Here’s an except from their old letters:

“It has come to our attention that you have exceeded the available balance in your account using your debit card. We ask that you bring that account to a positive balance as soon as possible. You can choose to opt-in to <name of program here> that will cover these incidents in the future.”

Our recommendation went something like this:

“According to our records, you have exceeded the available balance in your account using your debit card. As a member of <name of credit union>, you have a benefit available to protect against overdrafts – <name of program here>.”

The new paragraph quickly gets to the point and reminds them of how special it is to be a credit union member. The request to get the account in order was moved further down the letter to go with specific ways the member could do so, helping the member, not berating the member.

Put the member first

People’s eyes glaze over when they hear “we” or “our”. Connect with them. Put them first. Here’s an example from one of our credit union clients in Tennessee:

“Have you forgotten us? Your checking account has remained negative for 30 days…”

Yikes! The credit union is putting themselves first AND playing the victim. Taking the member on a guilt trip is no way to spur them into action.

We recommended the client just delete that first line altogether. Get straight to the point. The member usually knows their account is negative, so establish the situation, get on to the main point and do it quickly.

Notification letters are a great reminder to really take a look at all the ways your credit union interacts with your members. They may not be as fun as a school supply drive or as sales-driven as a branch poster, but they can absolutely engage your members and strengthen their loyalty to you. So take advantage of this opportunity and make them part of your credit union branding initiative.

Need help with the wordsmithing? Need a style guide? We’re here to help! 256-714-6596 or