Navigant Credit Union - Strategy and Advertising

Our Customers Are Our Owners


Nearly 100 years old, Navigant Credit Union was looking for a fresh approach as the market for financial services was getting more crowded. 



All our research pointed to one depressing, indisputable truth: People like their money. Their banks? Not so much. 


Worse still, the entire category had become a race to the bottom, stripping away customer service in the name of  “convenience”. It had become a commodity without heart.


Overcoming consumer cynicism about the category would require us to look for higher ground.


Creative Strategy

Weird fact: people stay in a relationship with their financial institutions longer than they do with their spouse.  Twice as long in fact.  (The average marriage lasts 8 years, versus 16 years for a bank.) 


And banks know this: if they can catch you, they keep you. It’s the magic behind their margin.  It also explains why their customers tend to be dissatisfied. Because a dollar spent keeping a current customer happy doesn’t have as high a return as a dollar spent winning a new customer.    


We saw a clear opportunity to signal that these “best practices” were NOT practiced here. But we didn’t want Navigant’s customers to have to take their word for it.  We wanted to PROVE it. 


Fortunately, that opportunity was built into their DNA.


Media Strategy 

With a commitment to their community, our media strategy leaned into placements that emphasized local connections, complemented by tactics that garnered market visibility. 


An audience-based digital strategy allowed us to segment outreach to meet prospects at varying stages of their financial needs. 


The result, an omni-channel campaign that was flexible to the needs of the business allowing creative messaging to guide support by channel.


Campaign Messaging

Banks and credit unions provide almost identical services.  But they differ in one crucial way:


While banks are owned by their shareholders, credit unions are owned by their customers.  


This creates powerful incentives for credit unions to do right by their people, but it was a distinction with low awareness and understanding.


We leaned into this surprising truth to make Navigant’s customers part of the narrative and show the unique value proposition. 



People clearly liked the idea of becoming owners. Delivered through our strategic media approach we not only captured attention but also fostered meaningful connections with our audience, which yielded excellent results:


Awareness with prospective audiences increased YoY and landed 76% above market norms,


Consideration with prospective audiences remained 1.3x above market norms,


Lending hit record numbers with loan balances up 13%, and  


A whopping 20% dividend was paid out to our customer owners, far exceeding the usual 5%.



Nail Communications is where every brand finds its fascinating. For more than 25 years, Nail has made award-winning advertising, design and branding work for regional, national and global brands.



Established in 2014, Decibel Media is an independent company specializing in media planning, buying, and analytics. We are committed to merging data-driven strategies with inventive, creative media solutions across every media channel to help brands get their voice heard. 


Based in Smithfield, R.I., Navigant Credit Union is the longest-operating member-owned credit union in Rhode Island. Since its founding in 1915, Navigant Credit Union has been dedicated to providing its members with unparalleled financial products and services, while working every day to improve the financial well-being of the families, businesses and communities it serves across Rhode Island. With more than $3.7 billion in assets, more than 145,000 members and 25 physical branch locations, Navigant Credit Union is the largest credit union in Rhode Island and among the state’s strongest and most trusted financial institutions.


Navigant Credit Union is consistently ranked as one of Rhode Island’s Best Place to Work by Providence Business News, and was rated the state’s top credit union and mortgage lender in 2022 and 2023 by the Providence Journal Readers Choice Poll.