Posts Tagged ‘naming’

Dropping the words Credit Union

August 29, 2012

Yesterday, Sarah Snell-Cooke, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of CU Times wrote an editorial titled Sometimes the best thing a credit union can do is give up ‘Credit Union’. This was brought to my attention in an excellent discussion topic started on

Ms. Snell-Cooke’s editorial concludes with, “Get the consumers in the door first, and then explain to them about credit unions. The name on the door doesn’t matter – it’s what is on the inside that counts.”

Here’s the problem with this statement. As Snell-Cooke concedes, most of the general public have no idea what a credit union is. In addition to that, most staff working in a credit union don’t know what a credit union is. So CU staff are even LESS likely to educate people walking in as to what it is when the words are not even over the door.

Here is an imaginary conversation for credit unions who have dropped the words ‘credit union’ from their name:

Customer/member: “Hi I’d like to open a checking account. Do you have those here?”

Staff: “Why yes, certainly, I can open that for you. While we do the paperwork, can I tell you about what a credit union is?”

Customer/member: “Onion soup? I thought you guys were GTE Financial. Why would you tell me about onion soup?”

When the name is not over the door, mentioned nowhere, then starting a conversation about what it means to be a part of a credit union is as relevant to this new member as having a conversation about onion soup, which is what he thought he heard the staffer say.

Therefore I can not see the logical connection between dropping the words ‘credit union’ from an F.I.’s name as being a route to educating more people about what a credit union is.

Can we leave behind the term “home banking” yet?

May 6, 2010

online bankingIt has come to my attention that some credit unions are still using the term “home banking” as the name for conducting online transactions. I’d love to see this term vanish from the face of the earth. This has NEVER been a good name for this function. Yes, a huge number of people, perhaps even a majority, do their online banking from home, but a huge percentage of people access it from work. This has been true since the early days of teh internets. Not to mention that in this day and age, millions of people have laptops and/or smartphones, thus enabling “home banking” to be done from such non-home or work places like their car, the nearest Starbucks or Panera Bread, city parks, the beach, a restaurant, the public library, at a hotel, etc.

Please please please don’t call it home banking! Purge the term from your vocabulary! “Online banking” is far more appropriate.

Don’t change your name to an acronym

September 14, 2007

Soooo many credit unions are jumping on the acronym bandwagon. Yes, the words “credit union” are a mouthful, and even worse are the “Federal Credit Unions” who are legally obligated to use all three words in their name. But please, resist the temptation to shorten your name to acronyms. We see it all the time. Unfortunately, this change makes your name more generic and therefore more forgettable with your members and potential members. STCU, BECU, BCU, DCU, DFCU, MECU, GECU, just to name a few of the large ones.

But here’s a new angle on why you should be extra careful before deciding to shorten your CU’s name to its acronym. Think about what it is going to sound like when you call up a member on the phone. Think about what it is going to sound like when the receptionist answers the phone… which will happen 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 times per day. We all know how funny Washington Telephone Federal Credit Union looks when they shorten their name to WTFCU. But here’s a new twist that I learned from my new friend Matt Vance who I met last night at the Washington CU League’s annual convention in Spokane. He works at Industrial Credit Union, and they have recently made the decision to refer to themselves as ICU. It can be interpreted in at least two different ways. It could be “I see you.” Or, it could be short for Intensive Care Unit. Imagine Matt’s dismay when he caused panic in a vendor by calling her back and saying, “Hi, this is Matt from ICU.” The vendor’s first reaction was panic, thinking that her husband, who was in the hospital, had taken a turn for the worse.

When it comes to using the acronym instead of your full credit union name…. just say no!