Too many credit union names sound like they were decided by a committee of accountants

No more lousy CU names

Too many credit union names sound like they were decided by a committee of accountants a long, long, long time ago. In fact, that’s exactly how most of them got their names. Add in the fact that every credit union name has to drag along the words “Credit Union” or “Federal Credit Union”, and you’ll start to see why picking a non-lousy CU name is so difficult.

How do you come up with a great new name?

There are a few types of names you can skip right away:

1. Terminally Generic (First, Community, Prime, Trust, Members, One, New, Plus, a direction [North, South, East, West], or any state name)
These are the names that blend seamlessly into the crowd of other financial institutions. Keep looking.

2. Awkward Alphabet Soup
Bear in mind that staff and members will always try to shortcut your name by using acronyms or leaving out words. Mull over the worst that can happen, and eliminate anything awkward, or that would make an average 12 year old snicker. (We found several examples, but we’ll leave them to your imagination.)

3. Names related to a long-dead SEG
Sorry, but “Buggy Whip Employees Federal Credit Union” has got to go. Time to get with the times. Then again, if you’re going for a totally retro-hip feel, it could be weird enough to work.

The “new” trends in renaming produce some interesting options, and a few pitfalls:

Faux Pharmaceutical (Altier, Inova, Viriva, Ascentra, Interra, Altana, Aventa, Solarity, Abri, Everence, Axxess, Astera and Envista)
Made-up names that sound vaguely Latin-like may actually be a good choice if a trademarkable name is important to you. But if it’s hard to pronounce, or sounds like a prescription medication for pimples, you might want to think twice. Inspect names like this carefully for unintended double meanings in other languages. And do a very thorough trademark search to help ensure you’re not going to overlap with the next big treatment for itchy nostrils.

Word Mashups (NuPath, Red Canoe, BluCurrent, Riverset)
Take one word or a portion of it, smash it together with a second, mix in random misspellings with a pinch of InterCaps, and voila! This approach often combines a descriptive word and an object or place concept. Mashups can be very interesting or just lame, but they’re a great way to start thinking more conceptually.

Motivational (Go, Grow, Magnify, Aspire, Amplify, Max, Via, Smart)
Action obviously speaks louder than words, so why not use an adjective or verb that is short and powerful at the same time? Random tech companies have glommed on to much of the thesaurus, so be extra-vigilant about overlaps and potential misunderstandings.

In the end, there’s a lot more to naming than it appears.

It pays to get experienced professionals to help dig in to your brand, generate names, check for problems, and help build consensus around the best possibilities.

Brian Wringer

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