NEW YORK (11/2/09)--Consumers want to stay informed, and credit unions who want to make the most of their brand should keep that in mind, according to new research on actions that brands can take that are most relevant for Internet users. The "Global Web Index" from Lightspeed Research, a Princeton, N.J., company that provides research in communications services, indicates that the top characteristic U.S. consumers want from a brand is to improve their knowledge. The least desirable characteristic: having your brand "only be visible in store" (eMarketer Oct. 27). That fits in well with most credit unions' philosophies and their efforts to educate members and others about financial issues and money management. Helping consumers keep up to date on topics important to them was also key, followed by being entertaining, becoming part of a daily routine, and informing consumers about the product/service and the credit union or company. Consumers were not interested in brands that tried to act like their friends, Lightspeed said. So what can a credit union do that will enhance its brand with the online consumer? The top action was to offer discounts--especially in today's economy. That was followed by "provide me with relevant news and analysis," "provide me with new ideas and thinking," "create useful online applications that provide a benefit," and "provide free downloads to content that I like." These topped various social and creative efforts such as online communities and brand-created video or TV programs. Word of mouth was the No. 1 purchase driver among the consumers surveyed, with face-to-face recommendations having significantly more weight with respondents than TV ads, advice from online friends, e-mails or websites. The most trusted source of brand information is no surprise: family, then a close friend, and then an expert in the field. The last source is especially important for credit union brands. They can use staff expertise in the personal finance field. These beat out social networking, neighbors, blog authors, store assistances and journalists. Even lower on the trusted source totem pole were a TV-news reader, a radio presenter, and microblogs such as Twitter. Well-known people--such as a CEO of a well-known company, a presenter on a popular TV show, a country's leader/politicians, and well-known celebrities--were at the bottom of the trusted sources list.