An ‘aha!’ moment

‘True believer’ drives credit union's success.

August 21, 2019

Elizabeth Rose, vice president of marketing for $714 million asset Vibrant Credit Union in Moline, Ill., is what you’d call a “true believer” in credit unions.

She doesn’t miss an opportunity to participate in regional or national industry conferences or work groups, and she delights in applying lessons learned from other industries when they result in improved experiences for Vibrant’s members.

Elizabeth Rose

Click to enlarge. This “vibrant” 1974 Volkswagen bus doubles as an ice cream truck.

When Rose joined the credit union five years ago, it was experiencing an identity crisis of sorts. It operated under a different name at the time, and consumers regularly confused it with a major farm equipment brand. The credit union needed a new identity.

“We were all in the board room one day, and someone asked, ‘What makes us different?’” Rose explains. “We knew the answer: We consistently delivered an exciting experience, complimented with bright colors and fun people. Someone said, ‘We’re just so vibrant!’ That’s when we realized yeah, we are.”

From its website and social media to its printed materials, this difference is clear.

Vibrant’s marketing voice borders on cheeky at times. The credit union employs a full-time staffer whose job is to drive a brightly painted 1974 Volkswagen bus reborn as an ice cream truck.

It appears at festivals and parties, but also one baptism and a wedding.

“Nobody goes home to their family and talks about a transaction at their financial institution,” Rose says. “But they will talk about a great interaction they had. We always deliver on transactions, but we also go the extra mile and deliver great, memorable interactions for our members.”

Some of those interactions include contests and prizes like swimming with dolphins, taking a hot air balloon ride, or (true story) kissing a llama. But they also include meaningful improvements in access to services such as video conferencing with personal tellers and upgraded online services.

All this has led to tremendous growth, as Vibrant’s assets have doubled in the past five years. It now operates 15 branches, up from seven in 2014.

Rose says what got her hooked on credit unions was the chance to support big events in members’ lives.

“A lot of people don’t get pumped up to get a mortgage or other loan, but they should,” she says. “These are exciting and monumental times in people’s lives, and we’re fortunate to be a part of them.”

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