Bethpage Federal Credit Union is proof that consumer trust doesn't always translate into greater awareness.
According to Bethpage President/CEO Kirk Kordeleski, despite the financial unrest of 2009, Bethpage experienced unprecedented growth, with over $1.5 billion in loans, three new branch locations and an expansion of its commercial real estate lending.
Yet, an in-depth year-long research effort revealed that among non-credit union consumers, the $3.6 billion credit union still was not top of mind. After 69 years when it was first established by employees of Grumman Aerospace and nine years since its last rebranding effort, where it established itself as the 'heart of the community' with its 'Banking Among Friends' tag line, the credit union has once again breathed new life into its brand image.
"While our members listed us as one of the top three financial institutions and 66% have heard of Bethpage, the majority of non-credit union consumers have the common misperception about credit unions in general-that you have to belong to a union or that it's not a full-service financial institution," said Kordeleski.
He said the time was ripe for a change. Turning to Greensboro, N.C.-based branding firm Stealing Share, the Long Island, N.Y.-based credit union realized that the standard credit union differences such as service are rarely recognized by nonmembers, particularly with the common misperception that banks offer greater convenience. In order to steal market share from banks, Bethpage FCU had to revamp its brand image and break through the clutter.
To help remove the perceived barriers to joining, the words "credit union" won't be highlighted in ads and the tagline 'Banking Among Friends' has been changed to 'You'll Love Banking Here.' In addition, rather than the typical bank blue found at the other local financial institutions, Bethpage's logo now uses teal with its signature heart in a bright orange color.
"It is a way to get consumers into the door and talking about Bethpage. In our branches and brochures the words credit union and membership are still there," said Kordeleski. "We have some of the best service numbers in the country as reported by J.D. Power & Associates and some of the best rates on Long Island, so we can legitimately say, 'You'll love banking here,' which is not something other banks can say."
Taking a page from Progressive or Apple's Mac vs. PC ad campaigns, the credit union has also launched a multimedia campaign around two new personalities, "Beth" and "Paige", to help visually reinforce the idea that Bethpage is different. "That personification of our service and value resonates because consumers remember us whenever they see Beth and Paige," said Kordeleski.