Pen Air Credit Union respects their past by honoring their future

Regaining control: Helping a thinly stretched credit union reign in and firmly define its identity

When a credit union needs to step outside the boundaries of its historically rooted name to reach new markets where it is not known, how can it still maintain its brand personality, history and sense of local community?

For Northwest Florida’s oldest credit union, Pen Air Federal Credit Union, founded in 1936, this was the struggle they faced in 2014. Despite a 2011 rebranding and new corporate identity (with a four jet logo), the $1.2 billion financial institution was losing members and loan growth was stagnant. But the biggest challenge of all was overcoming the confusing community perceptions of who or what Pen Air was all about.

Stu Ramsey, Pen Air Federal Credit Union CEO, said, “Pen Air was financially successful when I got here and was known in the community, but we weren’t very consistent in our brand, or what our volunteerism looked like. When I talked to sta about who we were, I’d get 350 di erent answers. There was no clear message for who we were, or where we were going. And when the people in your communities aren’t even aware they can join your credit union, you’ve got a problem.”

Pam Hatt, Pen Air Federal Credit Union Director of Marketing, said “I talked with Stu about recent ideas I had learned of doing a complete organization-wide ‘transformational rebrand.’ When we looked at our advertising and messaging, we realized there was no personality and no true identity. We were trying to be all things to all people.”

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