WALL, N.J. -- After 70 years, Mon-Oc Federal Credit Union has shed its name and revitalized its brand with the new name First Financial Federal Credit Union to help consumers get a fresh perspective on credit unions.
After talks with different people in the community First Financial FCU President/CEO Issa E. Stephan quickly realized a change was needed.
"Many people recognized the name but they had no idea what we do," said Stephan. "I was surprised by how many nonmembers thought we were part of the labor union movement rather than a financial institution."
Turning to The Woodlands, Texas-based marketing firm D. Hilton Associates for help, research focus groups of members and nonmembers alike further revealed that the Mon-Oc name just wasn't effectively delivering the credit union's service promise commitment of making members its first priority.
"We kept the name simple and we are excited to offer a consumer focused alternative to traditional banking institutions and giving each member our personal best every day," said Stephan. "Our new name, First Financial, reflects not only that we are in fact a financial institution but also the philosophy we're grounded on as well as our vision of the future."
The credit union is striving to deliver on that personal best promise by reexamining everything from products and services to training, branch environments and processes.
"Focusing on the member and progress are not mutually exclusive, after all members are why we exist," said Stephan. "Being more member focused does not take away the need to grow and be proactive, rather it gives us a direction and we won't lose our way."
To promote the new name First Financial has increased its marketing budget from $500,000 to $730,000 and is running a media blitz that includes billboards, newspaper and bus advertisements and direct mail campaigns. In addition, the credit union had a promotion offering a 7-month CD at a 7% interest rate and is giving members the chance to win a 2006 Honda Accord. All members are eligible and a drawing will be held on December 20 to name the winner.
So far Stephan says the reaction has been positive. The promotions garnered 1,600 new members in just three weeks and the credit union has drawn the attention of local press. It was recently featured on the front page of the business section of the Asbury Park Press with a huge circulation in both counties it serves, says Stephan.
"You couldn't pay for such coverage," said Stephan. "Spreading the word is something that takes time and this change is more than just a name but a new culture, a lifestyle that has to be sustained for years to come to be successful. So we are taking small focused steps."
One of those steps is providing employees with the tools they need to deliver their personal best. In addition to training or a physical change in the branch environment, there is also an incentive to be caught delivering on the brand promise. Members are periodically surveyed about service and specifically asked if an employee has offered their personal best. Those singled out by members are provided rewards ranging from cash and gift cards to days off.
"We are lucky because the member focus was nothing new for our employees. They've been successfully doing it for many years," said Stephan. "Now we are giving them what it takes to narrow the gap from the strategic planning to execution." --firstname.lastname@example.org