Is “membership” a bad word?

by: Megan Miranda

The word “membership” carries layers of meaning, and its connotation is often in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. It can convey a sense of belonging and the kinship that comes from being part of a mutually supportive group, club, or society. For many people, membership in a particular group can become a defining part of their identity and self-image. On the flip side, the idea of membership can be divisive. As Heidi Klum used to say on Project Runway: you’re either in, or you’re out. Membership can also convey a sense of status and exclusivity, of being one of the chosen few to whom special privileges are granted and VIP access is given. Back in the 80’s, membership was so cool it even had its own apparel (you know you coveted that Members Only jacket).

A Double-Edged Sword

Since a lot of consumers don’t really know what a credit union is, words like “join” and “member” can create barriers to growth unless appropriate educational context is provided. We’ve seen credit unions downplay the idea of membership in an effort to get around this challenge and to make themselves seem more accessible.

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