Name Change Wrap-Up for Spring 2009

Bank runs into all kinds of trouble with ‘Cornerstone’

The bank said it needed to change names to expand beyond its geographically-limiting moniker. Unfortunately, the bank not only chose a common name — one that is already trademarked, and used ubiquitously by others — it “borrowed” the logo of another Cornerstone.

One customer was angry about the bank picking such a generic name, so they put a call into the bank’s CEO to get some answers. They wanted to know why the bank would put itself through the inconvenience and potential customer confusion of picking such a commonly used name.

“I expressed my concerns with him [the CEO] over the generic new name, which is shared by multiple banks across the country, but he [the CEO] said that they will be the only Cornerstone Bank in Arkansas,” the customer wrote in an online forum. “He [the CEO] did his best to try and assure me that they did all of their homework in preparing this new moniker, which they have been working on for the last year and a half.”

This one name change serves as a singular cautionary tale about the many common pitfalls financial institutions run into:

  • Geographic names that make sense in the beginning can come back to haunt you when you want to expand
  • You need to do your due diligence and check with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to make sure you aren’t picking a name that will give you a mountain of headaches
  • Don’t pick a name that dozens of other financial institutions are already using
  • Don’t borrow someone else’s logo — especially in your own industry, and doubly so when they share your name
  • Be careful when you try to change your own name because you can create all kinds of problems for yourself (see above)
  • Hire an experienced trademark attorney

FAA Eastern Region FCU becomes ‘Aspire’

“It’s time to update our name and brand to reflect our evolution and the many changes we’ve experienced over the years,” explains Thomas O’Shea, the credit union’s CEO. “Our name needs to resonate with all of our members, not just the original FAA sponsor group.”

Boeing Employees CU Wichita becomes ‘Meritrust’

The $585 million credit union — the largest in Kansas — is now known as Meritrust. CEO Bob Corwin says the name change will help end confusion about who can join the organization. Corwin believed that having the words Boeing and Wichita in the credit union’s name weren’t helpful in recruiting new members in markets outside the metro.

The formal effort to change the credit union’s name started about two years ago and included focus groups to pin down the new name, the Wichita Business Journal reports.

The credit union says sign changes at their 15 branches will be the largest cost for the project. The credit union claims its Superbowl ads touting the name change cost less than the amount needed to change out signage at its 15 branches.

The credit union has applied for a federally registered trademark on the name. Smart move.

Piedmont Aviation CU becomes ‘Piedmont Advantage’

Judy Tharp, President/CEO, said that the name change was done to “help us overcome confusion with potential new members who may believe they cannot join because we are limited to employees of the aviation industry.”

McCormick Midwest Employees CU seeks names

The credit union’s board of directors has decided that a name change would better reflect its membership. Various names are being considered. They are encouraging submissions via phone and email.

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