Payments Leader

A Unique Loyalty Promotion to Differentiate Your Brand – by Mladen Vladic

June 12, 2018

Mladen Vladic, FIS | General Manager, Loyalty Services


“My goal each and every day is to make a difference – big or small – in the lives of others. You truly touched my life. Thank you for making a difference…” (credit union employee winner in its member sweepstakes)


The above quote is from a credit union employee participating in a recent loyalty promotion. It demonstrates the effect of creating an exceptional experience with the brand – an experience that is key to brand engagement with both employees and consumers. To make that happen, banks and credit unions must leverage existing assets, infrastructure and distribution channels to engage and communicate with cardholders.

The Secret Sauce of Exceptional Experiences

An exceptional brand experience is one so positive that it’s etched in minds of individuals to the point where they will always remember it and will become brand advocates.

How does a company generate exceptional experiences? A large part of it has to do with the uniqueness of the experience, which differentiates the brand from others. Think about Disney, No. 7 on Forbes’ 2017 list of the world’s most valuable brands. The reason people love Disney so much is that it transports them – even if only for a brief period of time – to a fantasy land where all of life’s stresses fade away. Disney also surrounds its guests with cast members who love their jobs and go out of their way to ensure an exceptional experience.

One Credit Union’s Exceptional Experience

Last fall, one credit union created a unique member sweepstakes promotion to achieve its goal to motivate account openings. Two grand prizes were awarded – one to a member and one to an employee who, in order to qualify, had to be members of the credit union’s loyalty program. The grand prize for the sweepstakes was an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for two to run in a warehouse dash where each winner could collect up to $8,000 in prizes. The dash consisted of a 60-second sprint down three aisles of warehouse fixtures stocked with brand-name merchandise including popular electronics and household goods.

Although the dash itself was rewarding, one must look past the iPad, Dyson or other coveted prizes to understand what this promotion meant to winners and their circles of friends. It was about creating excitement and memorable experiences that translate to positive brand associations. It was about making people feel special – in this case, by picking them up at the airport, ushering them around Chicago, treating them to a welcome dinner and rolling out the red carpet.


“I had such a great time. It was more than I could have asked for. I have never had something like that happen to me and I’m still in shock…” (Credit union member winner in the member sweepstakes)


Uniqueness in Loyalty Programs Can Differentiate the Brand

The way in which winners of the warehouse dash were treated meant more to them than the prizes they received. While more difficult to quantify than counting “likes” on Facebook, the soft benefits of this promotion have been tremendous. Positive word-of-mouth about the experience and shared by the winners has resulted in powerful advocacy for the brand.

Although unique sweepstakes can help differentiate a brand from the rest of the pack, embarking on this type of loyalty program takes time. Most organizations’ lack sufficient internal resources to coordinate all parts of the program but can turn to external providers for support. In this case, the FIS loyalty team facilitated the warehouse dash.

Yes, employing innovative technology is imperative for successful loyalty programs; yet, management should not overlook available assets that can be leveraged to further differentiate the brand. Regardless of your industry, exceptional experiences with your brand will ignite enthusiasm and heighten its stickiness with customers and employees. Every company should consider how to employ current resources to create experiences that stand out from rest.


Mladen Vladic

FIS | General Manager, Loyalty Services

Mladen Vladic has more than 15 years of experience in the Loyalty and Payment Card Industry. He has managed and headed both the Product Strategy and Operations organizations that support over 4,500 financial institutions and retailers. Mladen is responsible for developing and implementing loyalty solutions for multidimensional complex operational problems at FIS.