An increasing number of banks and credit unions have either undergone a name change or are seriously considering one. Reasons for this include: the need to be more competitive, reaching additional potential new consumers, economic changes limiting the viability of single-sponsor financial institutions and general population demographic shifts.

Whatever the reason your bank or credit union may have behind its need for a name change, the job is a daunting one. Changing a financial institution name involves much more than just updating letterhead and the website. To approach the name change process in a more strategic way, we recommend the following trademarked four-step plan.

1) Research

The research portion of a name change process involves a great deal of highly-detailed and data-rich work. Research includes taking a look at your local competition, demographic information about the members you serve and your overall community as well as surveys of members, staff, your executive team and the Board of Directors. Name change research involves internal, external, qualitative and quantitative data culling. Every base is covered in this portion of the name change process to ensure your bank or credit union is headed in the right direction.

2) Strategy

The strategy portion of a name change process typically begins with a brand workshop involving your executive management team and board. During the workshop, many questions are covered, such as “Who do we want to serve?” “Who are we?” and “What do we represent in the eyes of local consumers?” This also includes messaging strategy, mindful of the fact that your new name must reflect both who you are and who you’re trying to reach. This is a comprehensive process that starts broadly with a look at potential names and then narrows the field down. For example, do you want your name to reflect your geography or something special about your area or location? Or are you looking more outside the box with a highly creative name?

3) Creative

The creative portion of the name change process ensures that all your research and strategy both match and work in sync with your new look. This will include specific elements such as colors, fonts, taglines and logos. A brand identity questionnaire is also completed to ensure creative elements connect with research and strategy.

4) Training

The training portion of the name change process is vital. It is therefore critical to provide staff brand training before, during and after the name change occurs. You must give staff the tools they need to change as the financial institution moves forward with its new name. You must also provide staff brand training as new employees join the bank or credit union family. Training is not a “one and done” operation.

Changing a bank or credit union name is one of the biggest jobs that any marketing professional can undertake. By partnering with On The Mark Strategies and following these trademarked steps, however, bank and credit union marketing professionals and leadership team members can help increase their chance of a successful name change process.

“When we got ready to change the name of our credit union, we didn’t really know where to start. We brought in Mark Arnold and he really helped us get started with the process. Our brand was crafted from the bottom up. It came from interactions with our membership. Mark was able to tune into that and work with us to develop the brand…”

Cindy Beauregard
President, Heart of Louisiana Credit Union