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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – We’ve heard it all before, “What’s in a name?” According to experts, the one thing that should be in a name is your brand and if you have a tagline make sure it stands for something your credit union can deliver. Sometimes it takes a “made-up” name or just a new tagline, but whichever road is taken it should build on the credit union’s brand image. When Hughes Aircraft Employees Federal Credit Union realized that its public image was like a golden retriever when it wanted to be seen as more of a greyhound, the $2 billion credit union decided to play the name game. Turning to San Francisco-based naming/branding firm Landor for help the credit union is now known as Kinecta Federal Credit Union and members are starting to see the greyhound. If you are thinking about changing your credit union name, Kinecta Credit Union Marketing/Communications Senior Vice President Teresa Freeborn offers the following checklist: Set your goals- Start with goals for building your brand. Chances are you’re changing more than your name, you’re establishing or re-establishing your brand and without a destination you will get lost. Decide on your message – determine the attributes and criteria for your new name that grow out of your goals. Figure out what your name must say and mean. Research names – Generate a list of possibilities. Use professional consultants within your budget. Figure out if you want to play off your existing name, come up with an entirely new “made up” name or use dictionary words. (Warning most dictionary words are used up so the more ideas the better.) Evaluate. Evaluate. Evaluate – Keeping your goals in mind seek input from all your audiences. Work with your board and senior management. Check out various names with employees at every level. Conduct focus groups- if you don’t ask them you won’t know how the name will fly and better to know now than later. Narrow the field. And do it again- Choose your top 100. Your top 50. Your top 10. And keep going. Keep your goals in mind. What’s in a name and what associations do people have? Start the legal search – Do a trademark search for your top three choices including names, trademarks and Web site addresses. Cover all bases and don’t underestimate how long this takes. Linguistic evaluation- Make sure you know how your choices translate for all your audiences-you never know! Pick your winner and implement- Notify the NCUA. Then work from the inside out. Your board and senior management and be sure to educate your employees they are the ones dealing with your members. Now your members. Be ready with Q & A sheets for all staff to answer member questions. Proactivity is the name of the game here. Then inform all your constituencies. Along the way you’ll change all your forms, letterhead, business cards and marketing collateral. According to experts winning the name game comes down to creating a unique identity that consumers can relate to. “Naming is a competitive sport. It’s your first shot at being different,” said Danny Altman, creative director of Sausalito, California-based naming/branding consultant firm A Hundred Monkeys. “Don’t pick a name that makes you one of the trees in the forest and then spend the rest of your marketing budget trying to stand out. Fight the competition, not yourself.” Here is a look at how some credit unions are defining themselves:

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