Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Doesn't Necessarily Mean Un-cool

My Dad, who loves to take "cheap" older cars and tinker with them, just bought a '93 Audi. Its an alright looking car. It's got a 6 cylinder engine, and has no rust, but in its current condition it isn't something somebody my age would dream of driving.

We all know that credit unions are an old institution. Unfortunately we are that early 90's kind of old (hey, that's old to me!). The good news is that there are updates and modifications that can be done to both that car and the credit union that can make it something I would proudly drive.

If the body is in good condition, keep it.

The body of this '93 Audi is in great condition; no dents, scratches, or rust.

Consider the body work like the foundation of the credit union.

It is the basic, non-profit, democratic structure of the institution. There's nothing wrong with the basic structure of the credit union, so there is no need to change it. A bit of polish and a few minor modifications never hurt though.


Do a few modifications under the hood.

Lighter pistons, bigger fuel injectors, a new intake; all of these things can make the car a bit faster. Fast is good.

The engine of the credit union is the process of moving people into the institution.

Streamline the application process. Create an online system that is simple and quick, but also robust. The faster somebody can get into an account, get things set up the way they want them, and access that account the better. Like I said, fast is good, Especially for young people.

Add an updated stereo system.

Tunes are an important part of my driving experience. No matter how nice a car, the first thing I'm going to look for is the stereo. Does it have XM or Sirius? Can I plug in my iPod? How loud is it?

The stereo of your credit union is your set of products and services.

Most places offer the "stock stereo" of financial products. CD's, savings accounts, checking accounts, and loans. If you're looking to attract a younger crowd you need something better. Create products that are loud, that are different, and (most importantly) very functional.

Whatever you do, don't just slap a spoiler on the back!hugespoiler

We've all seen them. People who drive around in a stock Honda Civic with a 3 foot wing on the back. Don't let that be you.

The problem with this is that you're trying to look cool without anything to back that up. If you're going to put a giant wing on the back, you better have something under the hood that warrants that extra down-force. Unless you've got an F1 engine sitting in there, having a giant spoiler only makes you look stupid.

So, whatever you do, don't just put out ads that tout yourself as a cool institution without the products, services, and functionality that warrant that image. You aren't going to convince Generation Y that you are cool, you have to BE cool and let them decide.

So, don't think it takes a complete dismantling of your institution to make it something attractive to a younger crowd. It just takes some shifting to make yourself relevant. If done right, you can take something old and create something cool.

As long as its not a late 80's/early 90's Mustang...they have no hope. 90_MustangGT_Pic


Lee said...

I like the analogy of the car is great. A spiffed up CU web page just isn't enough.

Brent Dixon said...

Awesome post man. It's a perfect analogy. And I love that picture of the car with the enormous spoiler. It reminds me of half of the cars in my high school parking lot.

Andy said...


Thanks, It really isn't enough in my opinion, unless there is content there to back it up. If there is good content and a streamlined process behind the glitter and lights of a nice web page it can change peoples entire perception of your business.


Reminds me of the time our headmaster made fun of a kid for having those fake hubcap "spinners".

Bruce said...

The headline got me: "Old Doesn't Necessarily Mean Un-cool." I'm a little touchy about stuff like that - at 56, I definitely worry about becoming irrelevant.

However, I think your car analogy works on some level for people, too. If I have a sound foundation, and I'm willing to embrace new technology and undergo some important mental modifications, I figure there's no reason why I, too, can't continue to be a vibrant, informed, inquisitive participant.

Tony Mannor said...

You had me at three foot spoiler.

Good job with the post. I recently sat down with a client and explained how, with a liittle fine tuning and repackaging, their existing products could be "Cooler".

And old doesnt mean un-cool. I have a 66 mustang that is considered quite cool, but what is cool about it depends on the viewer.

The older guys respect how I haven't "Tarted up" the car with a bunch of add on chrome and crazyness (I have repro alloy rims but thats about it for the exterior). The younger guys get excited about whats going on under the hood.

My wife likes the car, but wishes it had air conditioning (which is why it spends most of the year in the garage). But she thinks it's pretty.

There is something there for each group. Your post also proves another theory...

Everything can be made into a car analogy.

Andy said...


Great point. Its a matter of accepting the way things change, learning about them, and not letting yourself fall into complacence with how things used to be.


What I wouldn't give to drive a 66 mustang. Great point too, its about being attractive, not flashy.

Jeff Hardin said...

Luckily my beer was empty when I reached the pic of the spoiler. LOLOL