Thick Pepsi

Sarah Snell Cooke recently wrote an blog post for CU Times advocating that credit unions drop the term credit union from their names. A while before that, Trey Reeme wished credit unions could be called Cooperative Banks. And in the time since EverythingCU was founded, in 2000, a number of credit unions have indeed dropped the term credit union from public view, such as DFCU Financial.

Is this a good idea? A bad idea? A who-cares-what-you-are-called idea?

It might be instructional to watch this re-enactment of a top-secret Tokbox video memo that the VP of Marketing of Coca-Cola created and sent to the executive management team last year:


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10 Responses to “Thick Pepsi”

  1. Ondine Irving Says:

    What a GREAT video and so appropriate- besides the fact it made me laugh out loud at some points- it certainly puts a new spin on the “keeping” or “ditching” credit union from the names of credit unions. Old coke, new coke? Explaining difference between Coke and Pepsi is like Banks versus Credit Unions- hmmmm, having a change heart after seeing this one- thanks, Morriss for sharing!!

  2. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    It’s not the “credit union” name. It’s that people don’t know what “credit unions” are. “Is it something to do with ‘credit’ and ‘unions?'”

    As I mentioned over on Sarah’s article, the choice is simple: either the industry can (1) make Americans aware of “credit unions” and what the term means, (2) it can find another term, or (3) keep moaning about how sad the situation is.

  3. Credit Union Warrior Says:

    Nice parallel, Morriss! Jeffry laid the choices out quite well. To me, option 1 would be the most effective, 2 would fix nothing, and 3 seems most likely. It’s not the name that’s the issue…it’s the inconsistent demonstration of what it means to be a credit union. Just another reason my idea about creating a multi-party credit union system makes sense ( We’re not all on the same page…why keep pretending that we are.

  4. Fred Goodwin Says:

    I agree, people just don’t get what it means anymore. We surveyed non-members and the closest we got was ‘kind of like a building society, but for Trade Union members’, which kind of right, but so wrong.

    We also looked into Mutual, again not a great response, most people guessed it was something to with friendship.

    I don’t really know the lay of the land in the US and Canada, but in Australia (IMO), you can break the CU’s into three groups, those who think they are Banks (and act accordingly), those who are trying to deliver on the original ideals, and those who haven’t got a clue.

    Getting a Multi-Partisan agreement between them all, isn’t going to happen, so we all keep running along as we have before.

    There are a few who have dropped reference to Credit Union from their names, but most (apart from two) have gone the Acronym route (eg CUA – formerly Credit Union Australia).

    In Oz we can’t refer to ourselves as banks in any way. For example we couldn’t use the tage line – Like a Bank, but with out the Bank bit. But the interesting part is in the survey, once they were told what a CU is, they all responded with something like “Oh, so its a Bank”

    Maybe if you(we) could get all the like minded CU’s together, something might change, but again it would need agreement from them all about the direction.

  5. CU Water Cooler » Blog Archive » CU Water Cooler 3/24 Says:

    […] • Thick Pepsi « World 2.0 Adventure […]

  6. Ron Shevlin Says:

    Thick Pepsi is brilliant. I’ve been trying to think of what the credit union equivalent is. Warm Bank? The adjective has to be catchy, one syllable, evocative. Damn. I’m probably going to waste half my day thinking about this. Damn you, Partee.

  7. Janine McBee Says:

    Is it as simple as honing skills to become great story tellers about the impact credit unions have on lives? We need to be telling our stories in such a way that heart strings are pulled and people are so touched that the stories become viral.

  8. Morriss Partee Says:

    @Ondine – Glad you liked it, and it shed new light on the issue.

    @Jeffry- Blanket statements are hard to support.

    @Matt- Some credit unions have chosen a fourth option; to drop the term Credit Union from public view.

    @Fred- Thanks for the Aussie view! Things seem similarly divided here, but it’s not always clear. Matt brings up similar very interesting issues and a proposal in his linked blog post above.

    @Ron – glad I could ruin half a day for you.

    @Janine – I agree credit unions need to get much better at telling their story, but it doesn’t require heartstring pulling nor Hollywood productions. It requires putting basic training in place on the CU story for ALL employees of the CU, management included, and knowing both how one’s self fits in the story, and knowing how the listener fits in the story.

  9. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    Unfortunately Morriss, “credit union” is a blanket term.

  10. Danielle Says:

    God love Edward Filene…but his adoration of unions and the need to incorporate a positive plug for them in the name “credit union” sure hamstrings us nowadays.

    I’ll say something completely sacreligious: I’m not die-hard-attached to the label of “credit union”. What I *AM* die-hard-attached-to is the concept of people helping people, and cooperative banking.

    But what good is an industry label if consumers have no value attached to that label? I can’t tell you how many focus groups I’ve sat in on/watched where the term “credit union” has no meaning for consumers.

    We spend far too much time trying to explain the definition of credit unions instead of just living and breathing our mission in a very public way. Change the way we talk in all our communications instead.

    “You and your neighbors [coworkers, family members, etc. depending on the CU] helped each other save $xxxxxx this year in interest on loans”.

    “Thank your coworkers today. With their help, we all saved an average of $xxx in fees this year vs accounts at the local bank”

    “Congratulations to you and your neighbors! Together we gave out $XXM in loans to your local community.”

    Toot our own horn in a public light, not just in industry publications.

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