WaMulians

WaMu has coined a term for its staff. “WaMulians” as they’re known, is a term that dates back to at least 2003, but was only used informally. Until recently.

It appears WaMu has an employee brand book, entitled “The WaMulians,” and a brochure that is currently in branches with this headline: “A $75 gift cheque says you’ll love the WaMulians.”

The brochure, part of a branch grand opening promotion, invites you to “come meet the WaMulians, a new breed of banker shaking things up.” It describes WaMulians as “smart, witty and generous…very generous.”

The first official use appears to be WaMu’s 2007 annual report, where CEO Kerry Killinger says, “Every WaMulian knows that we must give our all to help navigate through a challenging 2008.”

Well, not every WaMulian. Many are getting the axe. The bank is laying off 1,200 Wamulians, or about 2.6 percent of its 45,833-person work force — across the country, largely from its technology, human resources and enterprise operations departments.

In a recent internal e-mail, CEO Killinger fondly referred to the bank’s employees as “WaMulians,” even as he was announcing the company’s latest round of layoffs. Whoohoo!

“Each of us at WaMu has a choice to make. We can choose to be distracted and disheartened by the challenges we face. Or we can choose to take the actions needed and to fight to turn this company around. For the last year—day after day—I’ve seen WaMulians choose to move forward and fight.”

Key Takeaway: Branding your employees can be a great way to build esprit de corps. It makes employees feel special, important. It connotes that the brand is (at least partially) about them.

What would you call your employees if you could brand them?

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