Bancography | Branch Planning, Marketing Research, Brand Strategy, Products & Profitabilty

Name Change Review: Argent, Talmer, Orion, Alloya + 4 More

Members choose People’s Choice

Old Name: Australia Central Credit Union + Savings & Loan Credit Union
New Name: People’s Choice Credit Union

Rationale: Two Australian credit unions merged back in 2009 to create a goliath, the country’s second largest CU with 350,000 members and $7.4 billion in assets. They said that a new entity deserved a new name. They also told members that a name change was necessary in order to appeal to a younger audience and attract the next generation of members.

Analysis: When two organizations of similar size merge, they will frequently agree to pick a new name. This way, constituencies at both organizations — management, employees and customers — don’t feel like one isn’t taking over the other.

As part of the name change process, the credit union conducted market research to test three names: Everyone’s Credit Union, All People’s Credit Union and People’s Choice Credit Union. Not much range in those options. (Note: There are a few People’s Choice credit unions in the US.) Early in the process, the credit union invited members to submit their name suggestions. They received over 1,000 names.

The credit union needed member approval to change names. 63% voted in favor of People’s Choice, 20% voted against.

The new identity wrapping the People’s Choice brand is fresh, contemporary and approachable. Very nice work.

Spanish out, English in to attract non-Hispanics

Old Name: Banco Popular
New Name: Popular Community Bank

Rationale: The Puerto Rican banking giant found that when they tried to break in to US markets, it discovered that consumers struggled with the Spanish name. The feedback they got was, “I think you are going after the Hispanic market, and I’m not Hispanic so this bank isn’t for me.”

Analysis: The transition from “Banco Popular” to “Popular Community Bank” is one that is linguistically, visually and strategically logical. You’ve got to wonder why they didn’t do this years ago, perhaps back in the 60s or 70s when the bank opened its first US location. Now let’s see when they’ll do something about that ridiculous logo.

The bank says they didn’t lose any Hispanic customers through the name change. They also say that accounts opened by new Hispanic customers have been, on average, 10% larger than with the old name. Balances jumped 25% for non-Hispanic new customers.


Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

French for ‘money,’ Latin for ‘silver’

Old Name: DuPont Fibers FCU
New Name: Argent Credit Union

Rationale: The credit union says a name change was necessary to “better reflect our overall membership which has evolved over many years.”

“A name maintaining affinity to DuPont was desired,” the credit union explained. “Since the DuPont name is French, ‘argent’ — a French word that means ‘money’ — was a natural connection.”

“Also, in Latin, ‘argent’ means ‘silver’ or ‘coins,’” they added.

Analysis: The credit union has a community charter for the Greater Richmond, Virginia area, so it makes sense to dump “Dupont Fibers” if they want to attract a broader audience. The old name was too restrictive.

The Argent name is a sound choice for a financial institution. It’s short and conveys strength, making this credit union of only 21,000 members and $200 million in assets sound bigger than it is.

And while the word “argent” may have a financial connotation in French, it doesn’t really make a connection back to DuPont.


DUPONT FIBERS FCU – ARGENT NAME CHANGE VIDEO
After taking a four-minute tour of the credit union’s history,
the video announces the new name at the very end.

The Maine issue is purely semantics

Old Name: Savings Bank of Maine
New Name: The Bank of Maine

Rationale: CEO and Chairman John Everets told the Bangor Daily News the name change will better emphasize the bank’s local roots as compared to large national banks.

Analysis: Huh? How does swapping the word “The” in for “Savings” emphasize this bank’s “local roots?”

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

Talmage + Merzon = Talmer

Old Name: First Michigan Bank
New Name: Talmer Bank & Trust

Rationale: As the bank expanded into other states (such as nearby Wisconsin), they felt the Michigan name wouldn’t be well received.

The new Talmer moniker is a coined derivation of the names of the grandfathers of the bank’s founders: Mr. Talmage and Mr. Merzon.

Analysis: The story behind the name is strange. We’re not talking about the founder’s last names. We’re talking about their grandfathers. And apparently the founders’ grandfathers never met — one was a missionary in Asia, the other a prominent lawyer for the underprivileged — and had nothing to do with the bank’s history. As obscure and random as the explanation may be, at least it does give the bank a story behind the name it can tell. It’s fuel for a conservative, legacy-based brand image, but is it too “old” and stodgy?


FIRST MICHIGAN BANK – WHAT’S IN A NAME
A four-minute video explaining the new name and reasons behind the change.

Credit union, knight thyself

Old Name: Superior Iron Range FCU
New Name: SIR Federal Credit Union

Rationale: The credit union said it wanted to simplify and shorten their name to “make it easier for members and vendors.” They said most people already abbreviate the name anyway.

Analysis: Is this a name change? Not really. Switching your name to its acronym is so easy, it’s almost a cop-out. The acronym is pronounced “sir,” making it something they could have a lot of fun with in their marketing. Good thing it isn’t pronounced “S-I-R” (ess eye are), then it would be just another jumble of meaningless initials.

‘Orion’ shines at teachers credit union

Old Name: Memphis Area Teachers’ Credit Union
New Name: Orion Federal Credit Union

Rationale: The credit union dropped “teachers” from the new name because even though educators make up a large part of its membership, many Memphis residents meet the eligibility requirements to join.

The credit union said the Orion name was selected to serve as “a metaphor for an entity comprised of many individual parts combining into a more exciting whole.”

Analysis: Surprisingly there isn’t another “Orion” bank out there already. It seems that a name like this would have been taken, but apparently not.

Mustering the mettle to pick Alloya

Old Name: Members United Corporate FCU
New Name: Alloya Corporate FCU

Rationale: The old corporate colossus failed, and from its ashes a new brand was born.

Analysis: When an organization implodes, it’s usually a smart idea to change names and start anew, as in this case. According to the credit union, the Alloya name was coined from words like “alloy,” “all,” “ally” and “loyal.” The root word “alloy,” which is typically defined as a blend of two metals, touches on themes of cooperation, strength, unity and togetherness. The credit union said it wanted a name that would be distinctive, memorable, timeless, have energy, look good and sound good. That’s a pretty long list of criteria, but the new name arguably accomplishes all of them to some degree. However, the decision to go with Alloya probably didn’t sit too well with the folks over at Alloy FCU.

 

 


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Comments

  1. I disagree with your opinion of Alloya. I don’t think they did the proper research. Take a look at http://www.alloya.com. It’s a web site run by a woman who “see energies and other dimensional beings,especially the fairy and nature kingdoms.”

  2. With regard to Orion FCU, there was an Orion Bank in Naples, Florida. The feds shut it done a year or so ago.

  3. Hi John,

    When you strip the “cu” or “creditunion” from a credit union’s URL, you’ll often end up with something unexpected. Would a consumer think something less of Wings Financial by looking at the wings.com website.

    The difference for Alloya is that it isn’t a credit union for consumers. It’s a corporate credit union, with far fewer opportunities for confusion. Most visitors to the Alloya website will probably be referrals (e.g., clicking a link in an email).

  4. In regards to Alloya…

    While I understand their rationale, you shouldn’t have to explain your rationale each time you tell people your new corporate name. It should be a strong enough name to not have to explain.

    Additionally, they wanted something that “sounded good”. I don’t think it sounds good when people can’t pronounce it. Even after reading about how to say it, i am still getting tongue tied. Soon people are just going to say, “you know…the former Members United.” Or, “you know…that alloya place, or however you say it…”

  5. Thanks for the comment Katie. I believe the Alloya name is pronounced uh-LOY-uh. Loyola (like the university) seems more phonetically challenging.

    What’s odd is that no one ever wonders why Apple, The Gap, Starbucks, Old Navy, Amazon and dozens of other international brand powerhouses have the names they have. No one questions, no one explains. It is only when an organization changes names that people really pay attention.

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