If you want buy-in, first you need to hear what they think.

Build a Brand Strategy before a list of new names

When a Credit Union Board and/or Executive Team decides that it is FINALLY time for a name change, too often they make a major mistake: They start coming up with names.

That’s a natural reaction, to be sure. After all, the people around the table certainly know the history of the credit union and have a strong interest in its future. They have first-hand knowledge of the credit union’s capabilities. Plus, they have been the guiding hands that have built the credit union to its current status.

But there are two problems with that approach:

First, these ideas are only coming from those in power.

This means that no matter how appropriate the names, they will be seen as an edict from above; something in which the average peon (staff) or member will not have had any input, and therefore, not anything that the staff and members will truly take to heart.

Second, these names are based on the experiences of a few.

They are based on what has happened in the past, as experienced by a limited number of people, without looking at the potential and possibilities of the future.

You can solve both of these problems by getting others involved – from including the staff and members to hiring a third party to provide some needed impartiality and outside experience – and taking these three steps:

1. Ask for input.

If you want buy-in from the rest of the credit union, first you need to hear what they think. Let them tell you what the credit union means to them. Hear their stories about how the credit union was able to help fix a problem for a member. Open up the floor to suggestions and give them an anonymous way to complain if there are problems. You may not always like what they say, but you may uncover a few areas to improve, along with a trove of stories and information you did not previously know.

2. Do your research.

Find your most profitable members and ask them why they use the credit union. Compare their demographics to those of both your entire membership and your field of membership. Pay attention to the ages and life stages of all three in order to uncover the strongest possibilities for growth in the future.

3. Build a Brand Strategy before you build a list of new names.

Before you build a list of possible names, use the information you’ve discovered to articulate in simple, direct terms the central message at the core of your brand. Make sure your message is authentic, emotional, and utterly unique.

Then outline the ways this central message can help your credit union find new members and deepen connections to current members. This Brand Strategy will help clarify your opportunities for growth and make it much easier to generate and select names that help in that effort.


If you are interested in reading more, a free copy of the white paper “It’s not just a Name Change, it’s a Game Changer” is available here.

Kent Dicken

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