Name Change Wrap Up for Spring 2010

In few industries do you see players change names as often as you do in the financial space. Banks change names frequently, but usually do so because of mergers, in which case one of the two banks' names is retained. This isn't the same magnitude of change that one sees with credit unions, who typically dump names that are tied to employers and/or are geographically limiting, opting to switch to something completely new. That's why you'll see more credit union name changes than bank name changes below.

Code 1, all units please respond

Old Name: Kansas City Police Credit Union
New Name: Code 1 Credit Union

Reason: The credit union wants to serve more than just police officers, so it concocted a subsidiary with a new name. The credit union will use the new division as a marketing arm to reach firefighters and others involved in public safety throughout Missouri and in three Kansas counties.

Analysis: Code 1 is a police and fire code that basically means “answer this call.” It’s a unique and distinctively relevant name that should be a breeze to trademark in the financial industry, something the credit union has wisely chosen to pursue. While new division does not really constitute a name change, but don’t be shocked when the credit union slowly eliminates its original “Kansas City Police” moniker over the next five years. It’s expensive to sustain two separate brands. In the meantime, Code 1 has its own standalone website, but all members will see both names on their statements.

Reverence for faith reflected in Everence name

Old Name: Mennonite Financial Federal Credit Union
New Name: Everence Credit Union

Reason: Mennonite Financial FCU and Mennonite Mutual Aid, an insurance and investments firm, didn’t merge, but they both agreed to develop a new name they could share.

Analysis: The credit union says the new name evokes ideas of reverence, everlasting, forever, and permanence, symbolizing the organization’s ties to the Mennonite faith. The logo represents a vine with a cross in the center. The credit union hired FutureBrand to assist. The entire rebranding effort was strategic and thoughtfully executed. It shows you how much easier it is to come up with a relevant name when you have a clear focus and serve a targeted audience segment.

CUMCO sounded innocent at the time

Old Name: CUMCO Federal Credit Union
New Name: Members 1st of New Jersey

Reason: The old name stood for “Cumberland County.” A merger expanded the credit union’s reach into another county.

Analysis: You can be forgiven if you were thinking the old name is disgusting. It is…by today’s standards. Back in 1938 when the credit union was founded, it probably sounded pretty neato. If the credit union was honest, they’d probably tell you they were itching to find an excuse to dump the old name. Too bad there are already 15 other “Member 1st” credit unions in the U.S. It’s going to make searching for the credit union on Google a nightmare.

Members vote down change to Grand Crossing

Old Name: HealthCare Plus Federal Credit Union
New Name: HealthCare Plus Federal Credit Union

Reason: In a vote, members voted against the board’s request to change the credit union’s name to “Grand Crossing.” The credit union said in its newsletter, “Changing our name to Grand Crossing Federal Credit Union was defeated. Many members felt this wasn’t the name they wanted their credit union to carry into the future, and we should leave the name the same. The board of directors will be discussing future options, but will put this issue aside for now.”

Analysis: It’s no fun asking members to approve a name change. Fear that things “will change” (somehow) drive most members’ decisions. Many members will also hate a lot of the names credit unions ask them to approve, but it’s hard to see what’s wrong with “Grand Crossing.” HealthCare Plus tried to pick a safe-sounding, relatively conservative name but members didn’t go for it. Whenever you need to get member approval for a name change, it’s a good idea to link the new name to the original charter and existing membership somehow.

What does “Encentus” have to do with doctors?

Old Name: St. John Tulsa Federal Credit Union
New Name: Encentus Credit Union

Reason: The credit union obtained an expanded charter a few years ago and decided its old name was too limiting, saying “people would think they couldn’t join unless they were employees of St. John.”

Analysis: The credit union says it want to continue serving only those in the medical profession, yet the new name evokes absolutely nothing medical at all. Encentus says its new name is made up from two other words, “incentive” and “us.” First, “incentive” refers to the incentives to join a credit union. It also refers to the credit union’s “incentive” to serve members. The word “us” refers to how people came together to form the credit union. Whatever the name means and wherever it came from, it should be a breeze to trademark.

NuUnion gone after union between two credit unions

Old Names: Detroit Edison and NuUnion Credit Unions
New Name: Laketrust Credit Union

Reason: The two credit unions merged a while ago. To make it clear to their members that the merger was indeed a “merger of equals” and that one wasn’t taking over the other, the two credit unions agreed to find a new name.

Analysis: There’s nothing wrong with the new name, although it seems expensive and unnecessary for both credit unions to have to change. Certainly Detroit Edison wouldn’t have worked, but why not NuUnion? Sure, it’s a little weird — NuUnion Credit Union – with the letter U repeat twice in a row and the repetition of “union,” but that’s what makes the name distinctive. In all likelihood, either the folks at Detroit Edison weren’t comfortable with the NuUnion name, and/or there were people inside NuUnion who were ready to ditch a name they felt was awkward. Interestingly, the two credit unions are adopting NuUnion’s look-and-feel.

An unusual SEG swap

Old Name: Multi Media FCU
New Name: Darden Employees FCU

Reason: This $11 million credit union started life serving employees of the Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper business (as we all know) is going down the toilet, so the credit union had to find a new source of life. Enter Darden Restaurants. Darden is one of the world’s biggest restaurant companies. It owns the Olive Garden, Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster chains, among others.

Analysis: A credit union switching one huge employer for another in their name is something you almost never see. It’s had to have happened sometime before, but not in recent memory.

Sun sets on Mesa name

Old Name: Mesa Bank
New Name: Sunrise Bank

Reason: The bank wanted to merge six affiliates under one name.

Analysis: It’s a nice name…nice enough that at least another dozen banks are using it in states across the country.

Another bank drawn to the North Star name

Old Name: Fremont First National Bank
New Name: NorthStar Bank

Reason: No details are available regarding this Seattle-based bank’s decision to make the switch.

Analysis: Whenever you have a name like NorthStar that sounds good, there’s going to be a better-than-fair chance that other financial institutions are already using it. There are already “North Star” banks in Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Minnesota and who knows how many others. Any one of these could bring a trademark infringement suit, whether they have a mark on file with the USPTO or not, and regardless of how far away they may be from the Seattle “NorthStar.”

It’s not just a sea cow, it’s a county

Old Name: Tropicana Federal Credit Union
New Name: Manatee Community Federal Credit Union

Reason: The credit union says the change was made to better reflect its membership and services.

Analysis: What a strange explanation. How did the old name not reflect the credit union’s services? And how does is the new name any better? The new name is a reference to Manatee County in Florida where the credit union is based. The credit union hadn’t been playing up its relationship with Tropicana (the orange juice people) for a while, so this is probably just the next step for this community chartered credit union. The credit union says it remains dedicated to its original sponsor, but how do you think this makes the folks at Tropicana feel?

Time to retire Super Chief

Old Name: Kansas Super Chief Credit Union
New Name: Envista Credit Union

Reason: The credit union said the change was made to “help to create a brand that is less confusing to customers.” They also hope it will “better reflect the vision and optimism of the people who bank with us and our dedication to helping each of you make the most of every dollar.”

Analysis: It’s hard to imagine that the credit union has been entirely forthright about its motivations for the name change. In all likelihood, the credit union needed to detach itself from the decaying railway business that once supported it. You also have to wonder if the name “Super Chief” had derogatory connotations for Native Americans.

Moving to Mainstreet

Old Name: Credit Union of Johnson County
New Name: Mainstreet Credit Union

Reason: The credit union says it grew beyond its original geographic region and served two other counties besides Johnson.

Analysis: People are still pissed at Wall Street, so the new name speaks to people’s outrage as much as the desire to bank locally. Overall, this is a sound name change.

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