60 years ago, in 1964, Summerland Credit Union was formed as a banking alternative for  the Northern Rivers locals who desired more flexibility and approachability from their financial institutions. In 2023, Summerland Credit Union transitioned to Summerland Bank, moving to a wholly customer-owned banking model, alongside announcing an updated look and a more user-friendly website and engaged our team to develop the Storytelling Framework and launch communications strategy, plus new web copy.

Having been a key part of the NSW Northern Rivers community since its formation, it was essential that the local community, and Summerland’s loyal customers, were brought along on this journey. And that key stakeholders understood their core value of putting the power of banking back into the hands of the community remained paramount in this new chapter, despite the new look and name. It was important that Summerland retained the trust of its members, which it had spent the previous 60 years earning. 

Partnering with a business on end-to-end Storytelling strategy to execution is our superpower and we relished the opportunity to build, implement and activate this monumental moment with the team at Summerland. 

Once the Storytelling Framework was set, the strategic communications objective was to build awareness and comfort with the change amongst existing customers and to reach new audiences and the next generation of customers who believe in better banking and stronger communities.

With strong interest in the news from local media, Mkt. garnered coverage across print, digital and radio – including securing a recurring spot on local radio. Some of the coverage highlights included an article in the Daily Telegraph, with a digital reach of 3.7 million readers, featuring a video announcement from John Williams, Summerland Bank’s CEO.

To advocate for and educate on the power of customer owned banks targeting the next generation, Mkt. and Summerland worked closely on social and video content with viral digital creator and people and planet advocate, Jack Toohey. The two part series had a two pronged approach – the first piece of content focussed on educating and informing people on the power of customer-owned banking – what it is, why should we care – which was released on Jack’s Instagram and Tik Tok to over 300,000 followers. The second video is a brand piece that focussed on the Northern Rivers community and Summerland as a for-purpose, customer owned bank in service to its local community. The video aimed to shed light on what makes the Northern Rivers region truly special and is currently housed on the website and being used as a core marketing and communications asset. 

To activate within the local community, the third pillar of strategic communications activity saw random acts of kindness with local cafe takeovers and free coffees for the locals, plus a chance to win a $500 Summerland Bank account!. These events served as an opportunity to connect with the community, spotlight local businesses and to thank Summerland customers. Based on the success of these initial community activations, and with the help of regular promotions on Local Sounds radio, it resulted in the Northern Rivers Summerland team rolling this out as part of its regular local area marketing activity.