121: It’s pronounced “one to one”
Old Name: Florida Telco Credit Union
New Name: 1-2-1 Financial Credit Union
Reason: The credit union says a name change was needed to “align us more with our broad and diverse community-based membership.” (Translation: they want to serve more than just the telco workers their old name limited them to.)
Analysis: The credit union talks vaguely about how the name “honors and reflects our commitment to members and our core values and mission.” They could do a better job explaining the meaning and significance of “121” by talking about building personal relationships.
Reactions to the name are mixed.
“I’m assuming that the name is a shortcut for ‘one-to-one,’ implying a close relationship with the member,” wrote credit union blogger Chuck Bruen. “I think the problem with the name is that it isn’t quickly obvious what the name means. My first reaction was to ponder the numbers until I said it out load and then got it.”
“I like it. It’s catchy, clever, and different,” said Lori Philo-Cook, a credit union branding and PR consultant. “It may be confusing on signage though.”
“It’s better than ‘Telco,’” Philo-Cook added.
LM Roberts doesn’t like it at all: “I think the name is stupid.”
“Younger clients who are into web speak (e.g., “B2B”) may be attracted to it,” wrote Joette Storm on LinkedIn. “Others may need a translation. If they live up to the meaning, the word will get around.”
“It may be a challenging name to live up to,” said Bruce Clapp, President/Owner at MarketMatch. “It must be built on tailored service and personal connections.”
Argonne + Prairie Trail = Abri
Old Name: Argonne Credit Union and Prairie Trail Credit Union
New Name: Abri Credit Union
Reason: Argonne had been planning a name change since 2009. When the merger went through, the two credit unions adopted the new name.
The name “Abri” (pronounced “ah BREE”) is a French word for “a protective shelter or safe place.” The credit union says it chose the word to reflect the two merged organizations’ “deep commitment to providing members with a sense of stability for their financial affairs.”
Swapping “Community” for “Middle America”
Old Name: Olin Community Credit Union
New Name: 1st MidAmerica Credit Union
Reason: Despite adding the word “Community” to its name a few years ago, the credit union found that people were still confused and thought you had to be an employee of the Olin Corporation in order to join.
Analysis: Tacking the word “Community” on to your name never works. People don’t equate the word “Community” with “open to the public.”
What does the “1st” in the new credit union’s new name signify when there’s already a Mid American Credit Union, MidWest America Federal Credit Union, MidAmerican Bank and not one but two “MidAmerica” banks. MidAmerica National Bank is the one with the USPTO registered trademark. In a bizarre coincidence, the MidAmerica Credit Union Association just decided to dump its name in favor of something more geographically specific: Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.
Swapping “First” for “USA”
Old Name: MidFirst Credit Union
New Name: MidUSA Credit Union
Reason: The credit union says it changed names “to MidUSA so that we could continue to reflect the proud history and tradition of serving our membership for over 76 years as well as acknowledge our expanding membership base.”
Analysis: In 1994, the name changed from Armco Employees Credit Union to MidFirst Credit Union “to better represent the diversity in the membership.” So what was wrong with MidFirst? How does MidUSA better reflect the credit union’s history or acknowledge an expanding membership? In all likelihood, MidFirst Bank, who holds a registered USPTO trademark for “MidFirst” in the financial industry, sent the credit union a cease-and-desist order.
Geographically limiting name floats Downriver
Old Name: Trenton Federal Credit Union
New Name: Shore to Shore Community Federal Credit Union
Reason: People were confused by the geographically-specific name and thought the credit union only served the residents of Trenton, Michigan.
Analysis: Both the strategy and the new name make sense. The credit union wants to serve 15 different communities in the Downriver area of Michigan. Downriver Credit Union was already taken.
Sailing from a troubled past
Old Name: Domestic Bank
New Name: Admirals Bank
Reason: The bank ran into trouble with federal regulators over a now-defunct mortgage subsidiary. It is trying to distance its brand from its past.
Analysis: The new name is a bit nautical, but it might fly in Rhode Island, where the state’s largest credit union is named Navigant. The bank has applied for a federally registered trademark on the “Admirals” name with the USPTO.
Members shoot down “Peoples”
Current Name: Australian Central Credit Union
Proposed Name: Peoples Credit Union
Reason: Two credit unions merged. One was called “Australian Central” and the other “Savings & Loans.” They wanted to unify under one new brand name.
Analysis: The credit union needed to get 75% of voting members to approve the change to Peoples. Nothing sucks worse than having to ask the general public to bless a name change, and getting 75% of people to agree on anything is a herculean task. The credit union came close though, getting 70% to vote in favor: 15,000 votes for, 6,000 against. Chair of the credit union Bill Cossey said, “It is not surprising that members didn’t universally accept a change to the new legal name. We understood that achieving a 75% ‘yes’ vote was going to be a challenge.” Ooof, that’s an understatement.
Yet another steps “Forward”
Old Name: Marshfield Savings Bank
New Name: Forward Financial Bank
Reason: “Forward” is less geographically restrictive than “Marshfield.”
Analysis: The bank started its name change back in 2007, when it built four new locations in towns outside of Marshfield’s core trade area under the “Forward Financial” moniker. Even though there is no current USPTO trademark registered for “Forward Financial,” there is a Forward Financial Credit Union that could assert trademark litigation. The Wisconsin credit union is a mere 150 miles away and switched to Forward Financial in 2005, long before the Michigan bank.
ACNB becomes a redundant acronym
Old Name: Adams County National Bank
New Name: ACNB Bank
Reason: The bank converted from a national charter to a state charter, and had to remove the word “National” from its name.
“Frankly, we’ve been thinking of changing our name for some time,” said Thomas Ritter, President & CEO/ACNB. “We now serve customers in four counties and the name ‘Adams County National Bank’ no longer served us well as we continue to expand.”
“ACNB is what our customers have been calling us for years,” Ritter said. “It simply makes sense to rename ourselves as ACNB Bank.”
Analysis: “ACNB Bank” would technically translate to “Adams County National Bank Bank.” The Financial Brand has written previously about this phenomenon, known as the redundant acronym.
Does adding “Financial” add up?
Old Name: First South Credit Union
New Name: First South Financial Credit Union
Reason: CEO Craig Esrael said the new name is a reminder that the credit union is a “full service provider of financial products and services.”
Analysis: Considering the sizable expense involved with changing names, there doesn’t seem to be a sound strategic reason to slip the word “Financial” First South Credit Union.