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Don’t be evil

At the moment, Google is worth about $200 billion, give or take a billion or three. The company is one of the most powerful forces in the online world, but unlike most large companies, has also earned the trust of billions of people.

Much of this success comes from one of the pillars of their philosophy: “Don’t Be Evil.” Early on, Google’s leaders recognized that they had both great power and great temptation to misuse that market power for short-term gain — as a publicly traded company, investors are constantly howling for more. And gosh, couldn’t we be just be a little bit evil this quarter and make stacks of money? Fortunately, Google has pretty much resisted the temptation of the dark side, and continues to innovate and grow.

You could make a case that “Don’t Be Evil” or something like it is pretty much hard-wired into the DNA of every credit union. After all, CUs are created by and for their members, so their priorities align. But there is a lot of value to making something like this explicit — I think more credit unions should be more up-front that they’re not evil.

The basic problem is that credit unions are competing with banks — a pretty evil bunch, overall. And in the minds of most consumers, credit unions get lumped in with the rest of the pigpen. A few banks are making an effort to be less evil (or at least appear so) and it’s a brand position that is working out quite well for them.

“Don’t Be Evil” is an authentic point of difference that credit unions should own. And as I’ve said many times, differentiation is pure marketing plutonium — use every opportunity to stand up and say “We’re different — we’re not evil.”

Tell us what you think.