SEATTLE - When it comes to building in the paradise that is Hawaii the greatest challenge for mainland design/build firms could be just finding an "in". "This is a society of strong relationships, extremely friendly people who have strong ties to local businesses," said Emick, Howard, Seibert Principal Paul Seibert. "So it takes time just making the connections and relationships necessary to build trust." Enter Weber Marketing Group President Mark Weber, who having lived there for eight years has deep ties to Hawaii and considers himself a local. Weber Marketing Group and EH&S have teamed up to help breathe new life into Honolulu City and Employees Federal Credit Union's facilities and abrand. "I've been a Hawaii credit union member for over 30 years, spent my high school years there, and for me it is still home-I'm always flying back and forth," said Weber. "The complex and rich culture of Hawaii is rooted in the diversity of its population of Japanese, Chinese, Portugese traditions over the last 150 years or so melded together with Hawaiian traditions that have just become very unique and you have to live there and be part of that to really understand." Weber adds that the credit unions and people who live there are sensitive to mainland ideas simply being regurgitated in Hawaii. So from a branding standpoint they would want someone who understands the island, people, lifestyle and unique ways of doing business there. Seibert says it is about finding the right brand balance. "So while credit unions in Hawaii may be behind mainlanders on some trends in terms of branding or retailing, they are more advanced in terms of having these strongly connected relationships - members in Hawaii really embrace credit unions, and there is a true sense of family and community," said Weber. On the facilities side, Weber says there is a new wave of competition and high growth in credit unions. So on the islands there have been several name changes, organizations are branding more aggressively and there have been more transitions in the branch environment for more retailing and differentiated branded branches. Weber credits this shift in the islands as one reason why after off and on talks with HCEFCU President/CEO Wallace Wanatabee for some seven years, the time was finally right to make a change. "This is a $350 million credit union and it is amazing how they have experienced all that growth with no additional branches - they have invested in lots of ATMs, great Web and phone service and are able to maintain a strong affinity with members," said Weber. "The challenge comes back to the consumer level and the average person in Hawaii still likes to bank where they live and shop and the credit union has begun to recognize the need for branch expansion and creating a very differentiated, unique experience and style of service." According to Weber and Seibert, the space for the new facility is based on a retail environment where members walk in and still get a strong sense of family built around a progressive interpretation of Hawaiian architecture and contrasts of Hawaiian tradition and materials. From a lava rock wall with plasma monitors to having a 10-foot collage featuring family and member traditions, every element works together to better express the sense of ohana (Hawaiian word for family) not just in the welcome but in the advantages the credit union offers. "The idea is to enhance communication, enhance family relationships by creating this one convergent brand," said Seibert. The branch is expected to be completed by March 2005. -firstname.lastname@example.org
Relationships Count in Building Facilities, Brands in Hawaii
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