how personas are helping VantageOne Credit Union

Let’s say you’re about to work on a creative campaign for the upcoming RRSP season. You’re probably asking yourself what neat twist you could take on messaging this year that will set you apart from the competition. If only you knew what would appeal to your members. If only you could get a glimpse inside their lives to understand what they need or how they want you to reach out to them.

Getting this kind of insight is entirely possible through the use of personas.

A persona is a fictional but realistic character sketch that identifies the needs, wants and expectations of the people who will come to your website to learn, join or share the content and tools you offer. While each persona’s story is unique and detailed, it is also an archetype that serves as a surrogate for an entire group of real people.

Personas are fictional stories that will help you go (way) beyond your members’ segments, age, income and occupation. They move you into a place of empathy and understanding. They also trail blaze creative clarity and strategic focus by inspiring you to ask:

  • What would the persona do in this moment?
  • What would he need now?
  • Would she understand this?
  • Will it provide them with what they need to take action?

how personas are helping VantageOne Credit Union

VantageOne Credit Union*, based in Vernon, B.C. was looking for a way to breathe a brand new vibrancy into its business and marketing strategies for 2014. When they asked us how to approach this, we recommended that they start with personas. To help them do this, we worked closely with members of the VantageOne team to come to an understanding of their:

  • membership
  • community
  • strategic goals

After discovery meetings with the VantageOne team, we crafted four distinct personas that captured the credit union’s key market. VantageOne’s CEO Glenn Benischeck quickly recognized the value the personas would bring to his credit union’s marketing and business strategy:

‘In today’s competitive environment a business needs to really know who their target customers are and what drives them. The engagement with thirdstream to define our key member  ‘personas’ allows us to give real life personality and insight to these target members. This will be invaluable in executing our business strategies moving forward.’

design touchstone

These personas will also serve as a valuable design touchstone for our team. We are already in the midst of developing a 2014 digital marketing strategy for VantageOne that includes a new responsively designed website. We will look to these personas to help us see VantageOne’s members and potential members as real people with real experiences on unique financial journeys. Then we will design a comprehensive online experience that resonates with their needs and intuitively positions Vantage One as the ideal solution to their financial questions.

VantageOne is one of the top 20 credit unions in BC, based in Vernon. They are a full service financial institution offering comprehensive solutions to consumers and businesses from 5 branch locations, with over 12,000 members and $269M in assets.

Meet our Director of Product Management

As thirdstream’s Director of Product Management, Jeff Coomber makes it his business to understand exactly what people need and precisely how to design online experiences that ensure they get it. He pairs this skill-set with a comprehensive understanding of credit union business processes. The result: virtual magic for credit unions and their members.

For example, Jeff was a key member of the team that developed open(up)™, our award-winning account opening software. He’s also been instrumental in bringing cumulus™ to market. cumulus™ is our end-to-end virtual account opening and onboarding tool that is yielding great results for for our clients.

Even though Jeff’s been part of our team since 2007, we felt like it was time for a ‘get to know more about you’ refresh. So we sat down with him a little while ago to ask him some probing questions, including everything to what he does at thirdstream to what his favourite beverage is.

What’s your role with thirdstream?
Officially my title is Director of Product Management. I’m also Marketing Strategist on our creative team. It means that I play a role in all areas of our company – software, technology and marketing. I also head up thirdstream labs, our internal initiative for innovation and development of new products.

What do you love about your job?
I get really excited about leveraging technology to engage members in the most meaningful and intuitive experience possible, whether it’s on a website, social or mobile platform or a software solution. I also enjoy working closely with our technology team until that vision becomes a reality.

Tell us about the people you work with.
We’ve got a lot of diverse personalities and talents who are able to laugh, learn and work together while at the same time developing award winning software and marketing solutions. I just enjoy getting to know everyone, the different personalities and cultures. Sharing a laugh, enduring a hard time, or celebrating a victory.

What appeals to you the most about the work you do with thirdstream?
I like that it’s always changing, technology based, it’s creative (marketing and software), solving problems and that it constantly evolves.

Now for the fun stuff



Grew up in which decade?

Biggest musical (or other) influence when you were growing up?
Rock and Rap

Favourite tune/band on your ipod right now?
Mumford & Sons

Huge fan of

Family you’d like to mention?
My wife and all my kids.

You’re happiest when …
solving a problem

Other hobbies/interests
Sports & competition

Favourite beverage
Coke (though I’m trying to quit)

Greatest inspiration
My dad

Greatest achievement (so far)
Being a father to my kids (sidebar: those kids are mini-Jeffs and absolutely awesome – like their dad)