It Doesn’t Sound Like a Credit Union

It Doesn’t Sound Like a Name for a Credit Union

In a rebrand project for a credit union, we were getting the same response to some of the names we presented: “I really like it, but it doesn’t sound like a name for a credit union.” So, I did what any great brand strategist would do… I invited them into my shower.

With a family of four, our shower has four brands of shampoo: Redken, Aveda, Axe and Head & Shoulders. Each has its own brand story:

  • Redken. – Paula Ken started Redken in 1960 with Chemist Jehri Redding to form a low PH product.
  • Aveda. – This brand was founded in 1978 after Horst Rechelbacher visited India and was introduced to the Hindu science of Ayurveda.
  • Axe. – Formed in 2009 by Unilever, Axe is based on a French brand, Lynx, that launched in 1983.
  • Head & Shoulders. – This anti-dandruff shampoo was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1961.

Examining these names apart from their brands, would they pass for shampoos of today?

Few today would know (or care) about the significance of Redken’s name. Without 50 years of brand recognition, you may have no idea what Redken even represents. A type of fish? Brand of shoes? Paint color? Aveda, too, is a made-up name, and harkens back to an idea of a mind-body health system. Its name has more to do with philosophy than the act of shampooing.

Axe, meanwhile, is a tool used to split wood. It doesn’t really sound like a shampoo, now does it? Head & Shoulders is the only one of the four that at least states its intended purpose to protect. While tried and true, it is probably the least sexy of the four brands.

Now, I know what you are thinking. These are products, and not names of credit unions or community banks. There’s more creative licensing with products than naming an organization.


By name alone, think of the names Golden 1, PenFed or Security Service. Does Golden 1 serve senior citizens? Does the Pen in PenFed stand for Pennsylvania? Does Security Service offer security guards? We know these names because of their brand stories. All three are in the top 10 of credit unions by total assets managed. We don’t know them by name alone; we know them because of what they have done.

When it comes to renaming your credit union or community bank, the name of your institution is like that of a title of a book. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and yet, we know so many that do. Whether your name reflects an idea, mission, concept, region or the obvious, a remarkable name must accompany a remarkable story.

What’s your brand story?

If you are looking to inspire a passionate following or looking to rebrand, get this free download, “Rewriting the Rules of Financial Branding.” Inside you will find 5 lessons for financial branding in today’s marketplace. Plus, there are 15 tough conversations that will transform your organization to help it matter more to more people.

Simply fill out this quick form and you’re on your way!

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