WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. -- Doing a 360 has never felt better, especially for Hamilton Sundstrand Federal Credit Union.
Since the $175 million credit union has changed its name to 360 Federal Credit Union, the sky's the limit for opportunity, said 360 Federal CU Marketing Manager Roberta Weiner.
"It's a name that has legs, promotional flexibility and is so inclusive," said Weiner. "It is a complete circle so families can be members, SEGs, and it provides multiple tie-ins with Hamilton, which is great."
According to credit union President/CEO Robert L. Aresti the name change decision was one that had come of age.
"With the level of increased competition in our marketplace, we needed to ensure that consumers and businesses knew that our membership was not just limited to Hamilton Sundstrand employees," said Aresti. "As we tracked and looked at the number of new members in each month from Hamilton our main sponsor, and other SEGs, the number was close to 50/50, and we also wanted to grow and appeal to younger members so all those factors we realized it really was time for a name change."
Wanting expert, objective help in developing a new identity, the credit union turned to Newton, Mass.-based branding firm BrandEquity with the criteria that the end result honor its roots while being modern enough to build on in the future. Aresti said the long process of research and whittling down the selections from 50 to 60 names to one was time well spent.
"We try to find the hook for each client, what's unique to them," said BrandEquity Creative Director Steve Smith. "What was cool about Hamilton is its rich background in aerospace history that no one else could claim and something they shouldn't walk away from entirely. What was great about working with the credit union was that they were willing to go through the process and take a leap to a fairly bold new name."
Wanting to appeal to both Hamilton Sundstrand employees with years of loyalty as well as new members unfamiliar with the credit union and company history, BrandEquity worked on creating an identity that could capture the 360-degree motion of a propeller, which Hamilton Sunstrand is best known for manufacturing, and maintain the essence of the company.
"On the most basic level, 360 represents Hamilton Sundstrand's propellers rotating. The spinning propeller provides the power for the plane to move, as our 360 provides the opportunity for us to grow," said Aresti. "As we went through the names 360 really fit the bill but interestingly enough because it was a number, which was intriguing and it was so different, it really did have to grow on us. And credit goes to the board for making the unanimous decision on 360, which was short, memorable, tied back to Hamilton, was less traditional and future forward."
He added the new tagline, "It all revolves around you" and BrandEquity's use of a distinctive modern font and uniquely positioning "360" inside a green circle for the logo helped everything fall into place. The new green and black visual identity system is applied consistently at every member touchpoint, signs, marketing communications and the new company Web site, www.360fcu.org. Member reaction has been extremely positive. Weiner says out of 17,200 members there have been only some 20 complaints about the change.
"We prepared our members for this and sent high-quality announcements to members 60 to 90 days before the name change took place," said 360 FCU's Weiner. "So we made sure to give our members time to absorb the news before we went public with it."
The credit union also timed the name unveiling to coincide with the unveiling of its new Enfield branch. The state-of-the-art facility includes both full-service and self-service options, large screen TVs, an Internet caf?(C), and plays up the credit union's more vibrant brand image.
"You do something like this and you brace yourself but it has all worked out," said Aresti. "Even the black and apple green colors that were such a big change from our old blue has become our signature color and whenever someone is wearing the color combination people say you're wearing my credit union's colors. It's made such an impact that at one point we thought about opening a store for branded hats and shirts."