"This is something that has been part of our strategic plan for over six months. Our credit union was born 70 years ago, when 12 employees of the Louisiana Highway Commission formed the Highway Federal Credit Union, and that heritage will always be an important part of our history," President/CEO Cary J. Anderson said. "At the same time, our membership has grown to include several communities, as well as LA DOTD contractors and consultants, and more than 200 different corporate partners. So, we also want to recognize that diversity."
Working with Denise Stillman, principal of the business strategy and marketing consulting firm Clear Directions, the credit union learned through months of research that the LA DOTD name was not effective in drawing new members.
"The key issues that we needed to address to make the credit union a success going forward was that the LA DOTD name was perceived as too exclusive and consumers didn't think they could join unless they were LA DOTD employees," Stillman said.
She added that with the consumer market changing, a new name would help take LA DOTD FCU into the future by better connecting and communicating an expanded field of membership with area consumers. In determining a new brand identity, nothing was left off the table.
"Denise took us through an exercise where she asked us to make a list of words that people identify with financial institutions and to think about what name would bring people in," said Anderson. "We filled a whole whiteboard. Even 'bank' was up there. And the bottom line is we knew we wanted 'financial' in the name."
Anderson then talked to several CEOs who worked at CUs that had the word "financial" as part of their name and discussed in detail how it affected their success and member growth. The next assignment was find a word to pair with "financial." That proved a little more challenging because Anderson and the board wanted something that would acknowledge the CU's roots.
"We needed a word that would let consumers know they could join, tie in with our values and mission statement while honoring our DOTD heritage," said Anderson. "We also knew we wanted an existing word because we didn't want to have to make up a word that would then need to be further explained."
After the CU narrowed its vast pool of names down to 30, Main Street fit the bill. With the new name came an opportunity to create a fresh more contemporary logo that boasts a bold, more modern font and crisp lines, Anderson said. Current branches feature a highway theme that he said go well with the new logo. The major changes range from revamping the Web site and ordering new logo shirts for staffers to putting up new signage.
"We liked the idea of it being a street, which nods to our history, but it also really represents American values," said Anderson. "You keep hearing from all the talking heads about Wall Street versus Main Street. It basically represents everything we want to say about ourselves and the values consumers are looking for in their financial institution."
So far the member response has been positive.
"There were only a few grumblers. Overall, we've gotten a good response where members tell us they like the name, and they are happy that we're trying to grow," said Anderson. "Just as the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has evolved and improved, building the infrastructure to connect the state of Louisiana, the credit union has been building financial highways to improve members' quality of life. By connecting members with the resources they need, we're providing a roadmap to take them toward their financial dreams."
To help spread the word, announcements of the new name will run in local area newspapers, billboards, and radio and television spots in the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles markets. Banners have also been strategically placed in a popular Lake Charles mall, the only one in a 50 mile radius, to remind locals while they shop that the name has changed and that they can be a part of Main Street Financial FCU.