The rural county of Abbeville South Carolina is dotted with small closely-knit towns that are working hard to buck the trend of lost jobs, bare storefronts and dwindling population. It’s a persistent but an all too necessary endeavor to capture new opportunities in Abbeville County. It is a community of hardworking, kind and loving people – many of whom place their trust in the grace and purpose of a higher power.
Greater Abbeville Federal Credit Union has been a staple of Abbeville County for more than 45 years. It began in 1972 as Flexible Tubing Employees Federal Credit Union as a single sponsor credit union, but in 1985 the name was changed to reflect the addition of other select employee groups. It would eventually become a community chartered credit union serving all of Abbeville County.
Over time, the credit union simply became known as GAFCU – an acronym much in the same way as BMW, CVS or Geico. We know they once stood for something, but we can’t quite put our finger on it (Bavarian Motor Works, Consumer Value Stores, Government Employees Insurance Company).
Unlike those companies, GAFCU is a hyperlocal brand competing against many well-known national banks and other local lenders baring the name of Abbeville. Meanwhile, among 2,600 credit unions in the United States that are under $20 million in assets, no one has made more net income than GAFCU.
Secure in their mission, GAFCU did not have the same confidence in their creative vision. The credit union came to Your Marketing Co. for a judicious look at their value proposition and how to make a more emotional connection with Abbeville County. YMC needed to capture the essence of what the credit union was doing in a new brand identity.
The new brand, HopeSouth Federal Credit Union, came to life on June 26, 2017. We found the credit union had five unique characteristics unmatched by their rivals:
Breathe Deeply. – Breathing is key to sustaining life. When you master the art of breathing, you calm the nervous system and enhance your awareness. The people at HopeSouth understand what is – and what is not – in their control. They act peacefully, not recklessly, in all they do. They aim to breathe new life into the financial future of their members.
Endure Always. – Large banks may have strength, but HopeSouth has endurance. By comparison, it is the credit union’s persistence that has led to record growth. They are, in fact, small giants.
Live Modestly. – Committed to financial empowerment, HopeSouth encourages its members to develop frugal habits and live a modest lifestyle. The staff also practices what they preach.
Build Up. – The credit union’s mission has long been “Your source of hope for a financially sound future.” When you get to know the staff, you realize this is far more than a mission statement. It is a statement of faith. It is a creed. They work in communion for the betterment of their community.
Understanding Forgiveness. – HopeSouth believe forgiveness gives you control of your life back. When things go wrong, HopeSouth knows how to heal its members, its staff and the credit union as a whole.
In its new brand identity, we developed a brand that is casual, bright, personal, fresh and clean. The name, logo and colors captures how the credit union is distinctly Southern, a disruptor in the marketplace and altering the perception of what’s next for Abbeville County.
Frank Allgood has more than 15 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Relationship Development Leader for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions and community banks across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.