(This column from GTE Financial President/CEO Joe Brancucci explains the rebranding of the former GTE Federal Credit Union. A marketing consultant’s arguments for keeping “Credit Union” in the name will be posted next Monday.)
GTE Financial (formerly GTE Federal Credit Union) has a mission that we take very seriously – to be the preferred financial service provider and employer in our marketplace. Our members’ financial needs and the way they do business have evolved and our rebranding reflects the modern, innovative and vibrant cooperative GTE has become.
The use of the term “financial” will convey that membership is open to every individual and business in our communities and not simply select groups. Modernizing our name and logo will also elevate our retail image in the marketplace so that the GTE Financial brand will appeal to younger generations and a broader demographic.
Our new name and tagline were tested and were designed based on both members and non-members surveyed in our target market. These surveys took place online, over the phone and even in-person to ensure we received a wide response. A complete change of name was considered, but in early 2011 it was clearly determined that the history of this great credit union is embodied in the GTE name, and even though the initials may not have a specific reference today, the GTE stands for certain values in the marketplace.
Our rebranding is a way of celebrating the GTE we have become without diminishing the relevant history we have had with our members over the past 77 years. We are proud of that heritage and look forward to making sure we stay relevant for a future generation of members. The brand we have created will continue to evolve as we go beyond money, and is based on every Member Experience we create each day and that are a part of the story that is uniquely GTE Financial.
The journey to rebrand began over two years ago when the GTE Board adopted a new strategic plan that is focused on our members and employees, and committed to our communities. The significant progress we have made since then in getting back to our roots as a credit union and focusing on the member in fact signifies a new beginning as we enter the next phase in the evolution of the brand. Our visual makeover is an extension of that, and symbolizes our new energy and passion for delivering an exceptional member experience.
GTE’s strategic plan introduced a number of new initiatives over the past two years that differentiates us in our market. Open communication with me through a monthly letter to the membership and the Talk2Joe email icon that I personally respond to – every correspondence, day, night and weekends – has been particularly impactful. Many members have voiced their concerns, frustrations and their praises since this popular feature was implemented. Our quarterly financials are also published and signed by the CFO and me and is a part of our commitment to be authentic and transparent.
The GTE rebrand process normalizes and refreshes our Community Financial Centers, and updates signage, merchandising and marketing materials. We will update locations with new technology such as lobby management software for easier sign-in, and member interactive stations (Virtual Centers) where they can access online banking on either a traditional keyboard and monitor or an iPad which will also give them access to our Deposit2Go application.
There are other aspects of the new GTE as well:
- Our Member Advantage account rewards members who are the most engaged with the best value.
- We provide our team with extensive training and clear direction coupled with rewards for delivering a WOW Member Experience. We measure this on a monthly basis through our use of the tools of the Member Loyalty CUSO, and manage it through our Member Experience team. We monitor our return to member, return to saver and return to borrower on a regular basis, and adjust our pricing to improve these metrics.
- Our “We Can Help” program has kept approximately 10,000 members in their home or car during the most recent recession – something we did not because we had to, but because it is the right thing to do.
GTE Financial’s renewed commitment to vitalizing our communities, which is heavily dependent on improving financial literacy, includes:
- Grants from the GTE Foundation to local charities that provide programs that support financial literacy, promote home ownership or support environmental responsibility.
- A GTE Cares program that encourages our team members to actively support local charities with both their financial support and time, and we match those financial donations and make in-kind monetary donations based on volunteer hours.
- Our Early Saver and U22 accounts are designed to encourage thrift discipline in our young members and provide them with access to a broader range of affordable financial products as they grow up.
- Our long-term major commitment to the Junior Achievement Virtual Financial Park will allow financial literacy education to reach all high school children in our districts.
- The GTE Foundation has a scholarship program that awarded $2,500 scholarships to 12 high school and undergraduate students this year based on community service.
The culture of GTE Financial is being shaped by a different way of looking at the business of our member – today and in the future. From our employees to our website, and to each Community Financial Center, the expectations of our membership will be exceeded and our rejuvenated brand exemplifies the core values of today’s GTE – Innovation, authenticity, trust, value and uniqueness.
We understand that we are much more than a financial service provider – we are a trusted lender, insurer, business partner, member advocate and partner in the community.