Renaming & Rebranding: Boomerang, Catalyst, Icon, iBank

Members vote for Boomerang

Old Name: London Civic Employees’ Credit Union
New Name: Boomerang Credit Union

Reason: Charter expansion

The credit union’s field of membership isn’t limited only to London’s civic employees, so they put a new name up for a member vote.

The credit union pushed a “yes” vote aggressively, with a microsite, newsletter items and Facebook updates.

Members liked what they heard in the credit union rationale for the new name — that “your money comes back to you” — the change was approved.

“The progressive style and color gives us an updated image and makes a bold statement to our competition and our prospective members,” the credit union said of its new Boomerang identity.

We already got one

Current Name: Home Federal Bank
New Name: Infinia Bank

Reason: Trademark conflict

When Home Federal Bank wanted to put a branch in the Twin Cities, they had to invent a new subsidiary, Infinia Bank because there is another financial institution with the same name already in that market. Now the bank has to maintain two separate brands, and explain to existing customers that nothing else is changing.

This is what happens when a financial institution picks a generic, me-too name. When they grow beyond their original footprint — where they assumed their name would be safe — they run smack into trademark issues.

Forging a new ‘Icon’

Old Name: Idahy Credit Union
New Name: Icon Credit Union

Reason: “Idahy” was weird

The credit union’s board wanted a name that was more easily recognized, pronounced, and spelled than “Idahy.” Most folks would probably would have pronounced the old name EYE-da-hee, but it was really pronounced EYE-da-HIGH.

The credit union’s criteria for its new name included: strength, respect, stability, security, trust, progressive and modern.

Strum Agency developed the new name and brand.

De novo bank forced to abbreviate

Old Name: Independent Bank of Austin Now
New Name: I Bank Texas

Reason: Trademark conflict

The young de novo state savings bank shed its “Independent Bank” name to avoid confusion with another financial institution sharing the same moniker in its Central Texas marketplace. Had they done their due diligence, they could have easily avoided this expensive blunder. The bank downplayed the situation in a statement, explaining that “customers have long called us ‘I Bank.’” (Note: The new “I Bank” name is indeed written with a capital “I” and not the more trendy “i,” as in “iBank.”) Now we’ll have to see which iBank prevails: this one or this one.

Common name creates conflict

Old Name: First National Bank
New Name: Points West Community Bank

Reason: Trademark conflict

Two banks based in Nebraska shared the same “First National” name. One has around $31 million in assets, the other has $13 billion. Guess who prevailed? Now, what will the Omaha banking giant do about the other eight “First National” banks in Nebraska?

The reason remains a mystery

Old Name: The Private Bank of the Peninsula
New Name: Avidbank

Reason: ** NA **

A reporter started asking questions back in February when news of the name change leaked. Why is the bank changing names? Are there plans to expand beyond the Peninsula? What other changes are in store? There are still no answers. Not in a letter to shareholders nor press release.

The bank says its new Avidbank brand “accurately reflects the bank’s core philosophy and vision.” There’s no mention on the company’s website as to what that philosophy and vision might be, we just know they are “avid” (“passionate”) about it.

“We believe that our new name clearly represents who we are and where we are headed.”

The bank begins operating as Avidbank on April 1, 2011.

Merger creates Catalyst

Old Name: Georgia Corporate + Southwest Bridge
New Name: Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union

Reason: Merger of equals, checkered past

When two organizations of equal size merge, they often agree to pick a new name so that it doesn’t seem like one is taking over the other. A new name is also a wise decision for financial institutions with troubled histories — as many corporate credit unions do — to start anew with a fresh identity. It’s a little like declaring brand bankruptcy.

“Choosing a name that represents the forging of a new corporate entity is an important step forward,” said Greg Moore, CEO of Georgia Corporate.

Both existing names — Georgia Corporate and Southwest Bridge Corporate –will be abandoned. The new name was developed by a committee representing both corporate credit unions.

“Catalyst is a mission-driven word that implies ‘building,’ ‘creating’ and ‘moving forward,’” said Dianne Addington, CEO of Southwest Bridge Corporate.

“It strongly suggests the new entity is the result of credit unions coming together to create a new cooperative corporate solution,” the credit union said. “In this regard, our members will be the catalyst for the corporate’s successful future.”

Gone: ‘Postal’

Old Name: Postal Federal Community Credit Union
New Name: TBD Summer 2011

Reason: Limiting name anchored to past

The credit union announced plans to change names by summer 2011 in a press release, something you don’t see very often. Typically, financial institutions try to bottle any potential outrage by saving any name change announcements until the last minute. They also have a short member Q&A addressing some basic concerns.

PFCCU was started in 1929 by Springfield postal workers, and then later expanded membership to include federal employees. In 1994 they were granted the ability to serve a much larger group, including everyone who lives or works in a 10-county area in Southwest Missouri. The old name no longer fits.

The credit union has hired Strum Agency, a nationally recognized naming firm, to assist in the development of a new name. The team at Weber also has another four credit union naming project underway at this time.

‘Encompass’ more than ‘DuPont Employees’

Old Name: Niagara DuPont Employees Credit Union
New Name: Encompass Niagara Credit Union

Reason: Community charter

The credit union received the go-ahead to convert from a multi-employer common bond to a community charter serving Niagara County. Its membership is now open to people who live, work, volunteer, go to school or worship within county boundaries. So they dropped “DuPont” and “Employees” to show that they now “Encompass” everyone. The credit union has three employees, 973 members and $10.8 million in assets.

Credit union CEO and blogger Chuck Bruen noticed that there is a national insurance company headquarter in Chicago with the name Encompass Insurance.

‘Star’ becomes Luminus

Old Name: Starnews Credit Union
New Name: Luminus Financial Services & Credit Union

Reason: Mergers

“With other credit unions joining us, it was time to give a new identity to Starnews,” said George De La Rosa, CEO.

Starnews Credit Union was formed in 1951 by a group of employees from the Toronto Star.

The new coined name was selected after months of brand discovery and development, which included meetings with board members and staff beginning in the fall of 2010.

According to the rationale presented to the members, Luminus Financial refers to “being illuminated” and to “seeing Starnews in a new light.” The credit union explains that a “luminary” is a wise or inspiring person who provides good advice. The “us” in the name refers to all of us, and our commitment to always put members first.”

De La Rosa said they decided to incorporate “Financial” in their name because they wanted to reinforce the fact that the credit union provides a full range of banking services to everyone, and this may not be obvious to people who don’t understand credit unions.

The change was approved at the credit union’s annual general meeting on March 24. The launch of Luminus Financial and its new brand is slated for June 1, 2011, rolling out their new identity starting with a website and signage.

De La Rosa is keen to point out that they see the name change as more than just cosmetics. “We intend on expanding our brand, and to delivering fully on our brand promise of ‘Clearly Better Banking,’” he said.

Auto Body Credit Union gets rebuilt

Old Name: Auto Body Credit Union
New Name: Astera Credit Union

Reason: Limiting name

The credit union, based in economically-battered Michigan, is hoping this name change will help it grow beyond its current size ($150 million in assets). They served UAW 602 exclusively 60 years ago, but today serve 150 different employers in the mid-Michigan area.

“This name represents our commitment to being the brighter solution in all of our members’ financial decisions,” said Jeff Croff, VP/Marketing.

On its homepage, the credit union has invited any members who have questions to email Mr. Croff.

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