MCUA: Does 'B word' hurt CU marketing brand?

March 20, 2015

ST. LOUIS (3/23/15)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) recently asked 18-to-30-year-olds about their perceptions of Missouri's credit unions.

The survey was part of an initiative by the league to test awareness and gain insight on how consumers perceive Missouri's credit unions.

By far the most-cited reason for not using a credit union was a lack of familiarity, as many don't understand the word "credit union," according to Halley Abbott, league vice president of communications.

"Banking," as a verb resonated with consumers, Abbott said. "After all, no one conducts financial transactions by 'credit union-ing.' We inherently are presented with an uphill battle, because 'credit union' is not familiar to most nonmembers. Continual education is needed to break down the barriers that are naturally part of our industry."

"The word 'banking' can attract members, some Missouri credit unions have found," Abbott added. "By integrating the verb 'banking' or 'bank' into their marketing, credit unions explained what they offer and how they operate, which clears up why many consumers aren't members. If you integrate the verb 'bank' into your tagline, it dispels the ambiguity around the word 'credit union.'"

Added Stephanie Jenkins, integrated marketing manager, Assemblies of God CU (AGCU), Springfield, Mo.: "Using a form of 'bank' [in our marketing] has been an intuitive decision for AGCU because that's the terminology our members use. At AGCU it doesn't matter what they call us. The services we offer and how we deliver those services are what matter."

MCUA's "Bank on More" awareness campaign earned three 2015 CUNA Blockbuster Awards: Best ad campaign on behalf of league or league service corporation, best use of social media and best in show.