Thinking about a rebrand? Here’s what you need to know

If a credit union rebrand is on your to-do list next year, you’ll want to read this. 

On the other hand, if you rebranded your credit union in the last few years, warning: you may find you have buyer’s remorse.

For some time now the trend in credit unions and companies in general has been to dub a nonsense word as its new name and brand. Names like Fat Llama, LunchBadger and Purple Squirrel (yes, all real company names) have been popular in the tech start-up world, just as similar names have popped up in the credit union space.

But it looks like that trend is so yesterday. Start-ups have turned to choosing names that comprise actual words or names that describe what they actually do. For example, there’s a company developing internet browsers that is simply called The Browser Company, a clothing rental startup named Wardrobe, and a payment software fintech called Banked.

Looking back specifically at the last 12 months, the trend has focused on feel-good words – nouns, adjectives, adverbs or verbs. Words that evoke a positive feeling, an admirable trait or desired state of being. Some examples I’ve seen recently are Might (project management software for remote teams), Cured (health software) and Elate (operations-based software.)

Another popular branding approach as of late is the plain old, straightforward description. Companies are picking names that describe exactly what they do, such as Grow Credit, a service for building credit histories; New Age Meats, a startup cultivating meat from animal cells; and, as previously mentioned, The Browser Company.

One of the most popular startup naming strategies has been the ‘creative’ misspelling. By dropping vowels, adding consonants, or taking other steps, brands can have found names that are both familiar-sounding and unique. Some recent examples of companies with misspelled words includes Cann, a maker of cannabis-infused tonics; Puzzl, a payroll provider for hourly workers; and even our sister company that produces amazing websites for credit unions, uncommn. 

If a quirky made-up name is still your preference, you must know where to draw the line. After all, it’s hard to dismiss the potential of weird names when a Silicon Valley garage-launched startup called Google is now worth more than $1 trillion. If you’re a large company like Verizon, you have ample budget to explain the name and teach people to pronounce it. It’s harder for smaller brands like credit unions.

There’s a lot more that goes into a successful credit union rebranding than brainstorming a whiteboard filled with fun names though. Rebranding your credit union can be one of the most successful projects you undertake during your tenure – or one of the most expensive failures. Don’t leave your credit union branding – and legacy – in the hands of an amateur.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: Details

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