Trego Montana, Population 805: Where Members are on Center Stage

If credit unions are about the members, then it follows that members are the best way of telling a cooperative’s story.

This short video is credit union storytelling at its best.  It captures the viewer’s attention for it shows members serving their community.


I asked Elizabeth Kozar, marketing manager at Whitefish how this approach was developed.  Here’s her thoughts on why this media is so effective.

Authenticity and Connection

Short-form documentaries provide an opportunity to capture the authentic experiences and lives of Whitefish Credit Union members. By showcasing real people and their personal narratives, the Credit Union aims to establish a strong emotional connection with the audience.

These stories humanize the Credit Union, allowing current and potential members to relate to the circumstances and challenges faced by others in their community. 

Engaging Visual Format

Documentaries, even in a short form, offer a visually compelling way to present narratives (especially being in beautiful NW Montana). By combining interviews, real-life footage, and relevant visuals, the Credit Union can create a captivating storytelling experience. The medium helps to engage viewers and hold their attention, allowing them to immerse in the stories being told. 

Storytelling’s Impact

Humans have an innate inclination towards stories, as it helps us make sense of the world and creates emotional connections. Good stories inspire, motivate, and educate an audience. By using short-form videos, we can effectively convey the triumphs, challenges, and values of our members.

Building Trust and Credibility

In an era of increasing skepticism and mistrust, transparency and authenticity are crucial for financial institutions. Short-form documentaries enable the Credit Union to showcase our continued commitment to our members by highlighting real experiences. By sharing these narratives, the Credit Union demonstrates their dedication to serving their community and building trust.

Differentiation and Branding

In a competitive financial landscape, Whitefish Credit Union aims to distinguish itself by leveraging storytelling. The use of this form stands out from traditional marketing approaches.  It delivers content that resonates with our audience. The videos create a distinct identity and position the credit union as an institution that values its members’ experiences.

 How Did You Identify Members to Profile?

To find members for the videos, I reached out to Whitefish Credit Union’s branch staff to gather information about individuals with compelling or unique experiences. By leveraging the staff’s personal connections, I identified potential candidates who had faced challenges or benefited from the credit union’s services.  

Respecting privacy and obtaining consent, the team collaborated to select the most diverse and relatable stories.  This collaborative effort resulted in a collection of authentic videos that highlight the positive role of the Credit Union on its members’ lives. 

The reach and impact of the Member Story videos is magnified with a multifaceted approach.  

For each video, a dedicated webpage is created that features a story write-up, accommodating those who prefer reading over watching.  We leverage :30 and :15 second clips from each story for various platforms, including broadcast TV, YouTube ads, and social media channels which expands our audience reach. 

Members also promote their stories allowing greater depth of use. Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation played their story at the beginning of their film festival this year reaching an audience far beyond our traditional marketing channels. Ninepipes Museum has their Member Story on their homepage. 

The Future

Whitefish intends to continuously explore for new examples of inspiring narratives of members in their communities.

These stories document a larger reality.  When members’ lives are the center of a credit union’s messaging, the unique and unmatchable power of cooperative design is celebrated.

Members’ stories mirror our lives, the ups and downs.  This couple’s story captures the spirit of Montana and life’s challenges: Working with their hands: the farrier and his wife.


Credit unions exist to foster community through trust and engagement.  These short-form documentaries are an art, portraying humanity at its many crossroads and living life with passion.

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