Trudi Mullins

'Head Cheerleader' Builds a Brand Her Way

'I don't see the point in doing anything halfway.'

September 30, 2014


TRUDI MULLINS’ MISSION: Give members an experience they can’t get anywhere else.

Stringing 4,500 bras across the Escatawpa River. Encouraging employees to wear pajamas to work. Showing up at the holiday party dressed as the credit union’s CEO.

These are just a few of Trudi Mullins’ signature achievements.

“I don’t see the point in doing anything halfway,” says Mullins, vice president of communication and team development at Singing River Federal Credit Union in Moss Point, Miss.

She says her title is “ridiculously long and not indicative of my behavior,” preferring the title of “head cheerleader.”

In 2009, Singing River Federal hired Mullins with the charge to “make this place more fun and build us a brand.” The credit union hasn’t been quite the same since.

“Credit unions can fall into a trap,” Mullins says. “There are always products tied to credit unions—friendly service and great rates. How about, ‘You’re in and out the door in 15 minutes and we’ll feed you lunch?’ Give members an experience they can’t get anywhere else.”

Here’s an experience: Instead of sponsoring the well-worn practice of tellers selling $1 pink ribbons to benefit research during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mullins came up with a fund-raiser called “Bras Across the River.”

The credit union pledges $1 for each donated bra—many of which are ingeniously decorated or designed as memorials—and strings them along the 1.2-mile length of a bridge over the Escatawpa River.

Singing River holds a bridge walk to raise additional donations, and passes along the bras to women’s shelters or other nonprofit organizations.

Under Mullins’ direction, the credit union also markets a new breast cancer-themed debit card each year. A pink camouflage card has played especially well in an area known for its outdoor sports, and the 2014 card features a pink disco ball.

“We want to do something in a way that no one else does,” Mullins says. “I have a senior management team that allows me to do my job. When I bring them an idea, they have faith and say, ‘Yes.’ ”