A bright idea
Kristin Shultz leads Spectra Credit Union to branding success.
Rebranding is a major undertaking for any organization. But working with a board of directors that includes actual rocket scientists requires a formula that yields brilliant results.
In 2018, Kristin Shultz was named CEO of the former NRL Federal Credit Union, founded for the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C. She and her team knew they needed to rebrand to solve two issues: attract more diverse members and eliminate brand confusion in a market with other military-connected credit unions.
“Before getting rebranding approval, we needed to provide what the board members were used to seeing in their daily lives—documented evidence,” she says. “That forced us to take our time to do it right.”
After approving the name change in 2019, the board selected “Spectra,” a word rooted in NRL’s scientific history. The visible light spectrum has a variety of scientific uses such as chemical analysis and radar frequencies.
Spectra also reflects the diversity of people in the Alexandria, Va., area that is home to the $573 million asset credit union.
Completed in October 2021, the rebranding took hold almost immediately. Annual website visitors increased 150% and membership rose 7% to about 27,000 members.
The CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council recognized Spectra’s rebranding effort, done in partnership with The Pod advertising agency, with a Diamond Award for rebranding, logo, and website.
Rebranding, however, is far from Shultz’s sole accomplishment. An advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), 60% of her employees are people of color and 65% are women.
Spectra’s website and forms are available in English and Spanish, and the credit union employs a range of bilingual staff.
“DEI isn’t new for us. Like most credit unions, it has always been one of our values,” Shultz says. “But the work is never done. We must keep learning, evaluating, and adjusting to ensure we continue to be diverse, equitable and inclusive.”
Shultz believes office life should be fun. She established the “FUNkadelics,” an employee culture team that stages events ranging from trivia contests to crab feasts to motivate and engage staff.
Shultz also launched a significant community outreach initiative, providing employees 40 hours of paid volunteer time per year.