Mich. CU Creates Brand To Serve Slice Of Members

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MidWest Financial Credit Union has announced a new name to better connect with employees of its original sponsor, University of Michigan Health System.

But, said Lora Bingham, MFCU marketing assistant, it plans to keep the old one as well.

While its present name identifies the credit union with two-thirds of its members from a variety of business types, the new name-University of Michigan Health System Financial-is representative of the remaining third of its members associated with the hospital.

"We launched this brand so (hospital employees) would feel that this is still their credit union,'' Bingham said.

The $136-million MidWest Financial was founded in 1938 as University of Michigan Employees Credit Union. In 1998, it became MidWest Financial CU to expand its reach in the community.

Now that the first goal is well on its way with about 135 SEGs and 16,000 members, Bingham said, board members felt it was time to renew the CU's commitment to its core membership group.

The board also hopes its new logo will help the CU cultivate new partnerships with healthcare-based institutions in the community, added Jim Bell, Midwest Financial CU's board chairman.

"This is not a name change,'' said Larry Knoll, CEO and President of Midwest Financial CU. "UMHSF is a new service we are offering to our members."

Knoll said the financial services would not change, nor would the staff or the CU's mission. "Choosing to be part of the MidWest Financial brand or the UMHSF brand is akin to choosing to be called Robert or Bob," he said. "We're simply giving our current and future membership the opportunity to decide what brand better identified their needs."

Teasers on billboards and advertisements announced the new arrival in April, playing on the hospital theme with statements such as "We're expecting" then "UMHSF is the newest member of the family."

Materials In-House

Bingham said the simple blue and yellow logo was created in-house. The MidWest logo is red, black, blue and yellow.

Bingham said members identified as health system employees received a new computer code that changes the name they see on their newsletters, checks and other correspondence. For all other members, the logo, the codes and the written materials remain status quo, unless they ask for the new identifier.

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