Is 'Bank' A Four-Letter Word In CU Marketing?

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Should credit unions use the word "bank" in their marketing materials and other promotions?

A new white paper from the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council has found no shortage of opinions on the issue, on both sides. "Some credit unions professionals would no sooner use this word than any other four-letter expletive commonly voiced in a locker room," the CMBDC said. "Others find it a generic term that explains succinctly what a financial institution is-including a credit union."

The white paper was initiated after Dick Ensweiler, then chairman of CUNA and president of the Texas, said in remarks before a CMBDC meeting that marketers ought to clearly communicate the credit union difference by banishing the word "bank" from their marketing vocabularies. He went on to challenge his audience to find an alternative to the term "home banking."

The white paper, entitled "Use of the term 'bank' in credit union promotions: Not an issue, necessary evil or high treason?" focuses on the three most common viewpoints expressed in this debate:

1. Bank is a generic term, and banning it is a fruitless task, not worth the trouble because it is no big deal to consumers.

2. Bank is a generic term, and there is no reasonable alternative.

3. Creative and clever marketers can, and should, take on the challenge of finding words to describe the credit union experience, and establish "credit union" as a brand.

Additionally, the paper provides examples of how some credit unions refer to themselves in taglines as well as how they define products and services that are most apt to use the "b-word" in their description, according to CUNA.

CUJ Resources

Non-members may purchase white papers for a price of $50 per copy online at select the icon for the appropriate council, then open the "White papers" link located in the "Tools & Resources" drop down menu. From there, follow the non-member link to order.

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