In April 2023, ICBA debuted a national public awareness campaign highlighting the community bank difference and focusing on millennials as its core audience. In its à la carte toolkit, ICBA offered research and insights into the millennial market, as well as a variety of marketing assets from video clips and display banners to social media and blog guidance. 

With these resources in hand, community banks everywhere could spread the word about their mission. Now, a year later, we look at the progress made and what we’ve learned.

An authentic connection with potential customers

Put simply, the National Campaign proved one thing that all community bankers knew to be true: The community bank values and ideals will draw in the right customers. All these customers needed was to know that there was a financial institution that would align with what they value.

“That relation of shared values is incredibly powerful—and that’s from a marketer’s perspective,” says Bill Hickman, ICBA lead strategist, consumer campaigns.

When it came to community-minded millennials, the National Campaign showed that community banks don’t need to change their institution to target the millennial customer base. Based on the campaign’s research, the two groups already shared vital interests and values, such as local involvement. That’s what made millennials the ideal customer for community banks—they just needed to know more about the industry.

ICBA EVP and chief marketing officer Rob Birgfeld testifies to this. “When we’re able to reach the target audience, we can move them,” he says. “The [National Campaign’s] messages and assets that carry [the community bank] message can move people from either not understanding what a community bank is to understanding, and to not considering to considering it as an option.”

The campaign’s success in numbers


year-on-year jump in organic traffic to, driven by searches like “What is a community bank?”


of those aware of the campaign believe community banks are very important to the local economy


of noncustomers were very interested in learning more about community banks. This is up from 20% pre‑campaign.

Of millennials who recalled the campaign:


went to the internet to learn more about community banks


searched online to find a community bank


had a higher awareness of the term “community bank,” compared with 59% for those who did not recall the campaign


had a higher awareness of what a community bank is

Creating a wave of awareness

Education is a significant factor. A potential customer could be trying to decide between a credit union, a megabank and a community bank, and by elevating awareness and educating the target audience, initiatives like the National Campaign can sway their decision. 

ICBA conducted market research prior to the National Campaign’s unveiling, so that its marketers could understand what would resonate with millennials and therefore make an impact. Because of that research, their efforts were successful. 

“They were watching these videos all the way through, which is unique for the financial services category and means we tapped into something that actually does connect with millennials,” notes Birgfeld.

Out of millennials who recalled the campaign, 72% had a better awareness of the term “community bank” and 70% had better awareness of its definition. And what’s more, 30% of non-community bank customers—cited in a post-campaign analysis—were very interested in learning more about community banks.

Building upon knowledge and enthusiasm

ICBA intends to continue the National Campaign’s momentum. “The most notable success was we didn’t come up with a new way to talk about community banks—we simply expressed what relationship banking means to people,” says Hickman. “The National Campaign was our first opportunity to connect that story to the community-minded millennials at scale, and they clearly responded positively.”

That connection has been enough to drive a 2,000% year-on-year jump in organic traffic to properties of, driven by searches like “What is a community bank?” Community banks have certainly piqued millennial interest in an authentic way, true to the industry’s spirit, and it’s not going to end there.

According to Birgfeld, “How we bring community banks’ value to customers and how we talk about it is something that we continue to refine.”

Want to join the campaign?

Visit to learn more about the campaign and leverage its customizable marketing assets, including audio materials, social media calendar, influencer guides and more.