What’s In Your Name? The Name Game…

Bob Dorsa, President, ACUMAby: Bob Dorsa, President, ACUMA

As I travel around the nation it’s so sweet to see so many Credit Union facilities dotting the landscape and highways of America. On a recent trip I noticed some of our folks have decided to remove the words “Credit Union” from their marquee and it got me thinking? I believe this is an executive decision with lots of planning and it has been a long time since I have been in the board room, but I wonder “what were they really thinking” and if there is more to this than just signage?

The reference in the title of this Blog dates back to my youth (or “yute”) as laughingly recounted from the film “My Cousin Vinny.” I recall a popular song of the time “The Name Game” written and recorded by a U.S. singer Shirley Ellis released in late 1964, moving to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, in 1965. I spent my youth in rock’ n’ roll music and in the 60’s and 70’s life was very different for prior to Credit Unions. The sound like (Katie, Katie, bo-batie, Banana- fana fo-fatie, Fee-fi-mo-matie, Katie!) You can try it with your name if you need a mind-break (but for those named Charles be sure to use your formal name). Apologies for my digression…

Returning to my original question, what about the display of the words “Credit Union” on your Credit Union’s sign or display? In my opinion the vast majority of people in our country are unsure as to what credit unions actually are or what we do. If you follow my thought what if excluding the words “Credit Union.” from the signage is somehow damaging to the great reputation we are building. Is this really a good decision?

In my personal experience many Realtors® are uncertain if credit unions are capable of “closing a real estate deal”. They seem to wonder Credit Unions viable lenders or not? Baring any personal pre-established relationships or experiences the general perceptions of most REALTORS® suggest a lack of confidence in a credit union when representing a buyer and in some cases perhaps even a seller?

My other thought raises the question, are some of our credit union compatriots trying to strategically distance themselves from the Credit Union community? Why would they do that I ask? I do hope they have good and valid reasons but in this wild world of social media buzz and “occupy” movements encouraging people to move away from banks to other financial institutions, a facility with only initials or a non-descript name NOT including the words Credit Union may NOT be in keeping with our total support of our system.

I recently viewed an article citing Chris Berman (the “Boomer” from ESPN); he spoke about the meaning and value of a “brand.” My next question is, how well can we leverage or fully monetize our credit union’s system values as an alternative trustworthy financial institution, when some are not willing to participate? I speak with countless people who still are of the opinion what we do is low cost car loans and no-fee checking accounts. I can understand eliminating other legal references, whether you are chartered federally or under a state, but thousands of people have built our Cooperative system together and I for one would like to see it reach its potential based on the values we have supported for many years and at a time when we have never been needed more!

Make no mistake, I am about mortgage lending (it’s what I do) Many hard working men and women do their best every day to covet what we do and now it is a matter of pride in my opinion.

I recently noticed Metro CU, in Chelsea, MA, now one of that state’s largest credit unions. Their new ad campaign proclaims “they are no longer a secret.” I like that! I believe that will generate a buzz in their community and make it perfectly clear to homebuyers, sellers and REALTORS®… We Want to Help You! Their story is what they do, for the communities they serve. It will make it easier for consumers (those people who have not grown up in the “banking system”) to identify them and relate the kind of service experience they promise. After all, isn’t that the real challenge! Keeping existing and earning new business.

Homework, Is it your Credit Union’s plan to be “relevant” or ultimately “irrelevancy”?

Bob Dorsa is the President of the ACUMA (American Credit Union Mortgage Association) a professional trade association (co-founded by Dorsa in 1996). ACUMA is one of the most unique niche trade associations in the Credit Union industry. ACUMA’s sole focus is credit union mortgage lending and related real estate issues. Dorsa is responsible for all aspects of the trade association’s activities as official industry spokesperson, meeting planning, strategic development, marketing and communications and all business operations for the association and its more than 300 members nationwide.  www.acuma.org

Bob Dorsa

Bob Dorsa

Bob Dorsa is the President of the ACUMA (American Credit Union Mortgage Association) a professional trade association (co-founded by Dorsa in 1996). ACUMA is one of the most unique niche ... Web: www.acuma.org Details