Why We’re Steamed When We’re Called a Bank

yellow person holding a folder looking at a no symbol and a bank icon

‘Don’t Call Us a Bank’

As an industry, we in the credit union space get steamed when we’re called a “bank.” I often wonder what Chime, Better, Earnest and others in the FinTech space think when the word gets tossed their way.

I would bet they don’t mind.

For them, it’s most likely a badge of honor. It’s a gesture of acceptance – not confusion – to be included in the lexicon of the general populace. They can do what banks do, often easier and faster online. After all, to be known as a bank, a system that dates back to the days of Alexander Hamilton, caries a lot of branding power.

Of course, we could dig into our feelings on FinTech, which would probably lead us into a conversation about digital banking regulator practices (which is our concern, not the consumers), but that’s for another time.

But why do we care if we’re branded as banks?

We could produce a laundry list of all the differences between banks and credit unions, but there are really two key pillars as to why this gets under our skin:

A Sign of Unity

We still hold onto our history, whereby we were created to serve tight-knit social, community or employee groups.  Our credit unions provided financial opportunities to families that the big banks ignored. And thus, a bond was formed.

Protector of the Afflicted

Likewise, in serving the underserved, we’ve had this mission of stabilizing families through financial counseling and assistance. We’ve seen real lives transformed, and many of our members see our services as essential care to improving their quality of life.

So, now, the gut punch: Do we despise being called banks because over time we look more and more like them… and we hate ourselves for it? Or is it, perhaps, we remember what we once represented, and we believe it’s no longer important to the consumer?

This is not to say that a credit union can’t be a progressive, vibrant organization that helps people prosper in society. But to build a brand legacy, are you doing everything you can to adapt and serve?

We need to make promises we intend to keep. If internally and externally we are telling a brand story that is dishonest, or at the very least outdated, we’re limiting our potential and stifling growth with our members and prospects.

As the adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” What are you doing today to bring meaning to your credit union’s brand story?

Change your mindset and change your credit union.

Bring Meaning To Your Story

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche


Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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