WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Call it the year of fresh brand identities for credit unions. Across the country many credit unions have kicked off 2003 sporting new names and revamped logos in the never ending quest for membership. According to experts, a new name can not only affect how members perceive the credit union but also influence how it will build its membership and service offerings. Here is a look at some credit unions that are counting on a new name to ultimately spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s now and in the future: Pasadena, California-based L.A. Financial Credit Union (formerly Courts and Records Federal Credit Union) has celebrated its new name by hosting its own rose ceremony. During the week of January 6-10 members were presented with a red rose and refreshments. The $261 million credit union is counting on the new name to better reflect its promise to provide financial solutions to both existing members and potential members with the tagline- Anytime. Anyplace. Anywhere. Over in Orlando, Florida, the 65 year-old Bell-Tel Credit Union has announced plans to change its name to simply Insight Financial effective March 3. “Our membership is becoming more diverse every day. The name Insight Financial will better reflect our growing membership,” said Lynn W. Owen III, President/CEO. According to Owen, the new name “better reflects the promise we make to our members – to keep your goals in sight while offering experience, knowledge, and vision.” In the heartlands of Newburg, Indiana Warrick Federal Credit Union recently unveiled its new name as Heritage Federal Credit Union. Employees worked with local ad agency KFS and Associates, to come up with a few names. HFCU Financial Services Consultant Heather Schroeder ended up submitting the winning final name. St. Louis-based Telephone Credit Union opted to play up its “credit union difference” when selecting its new identity Meridian Credit Union. “The word `meridian’ refers to the navigational lines which span the globe from pole to pole,” said MCU President Charles H. Waalkes. “Just as explorers, sailors and mapmakers have trusted the meridians for direction for centuries, our members have trusted us for financial direction for generations.” Enlisting the help of naming specialists Weber Marketing Group and James Clark Design Images, Seattle Telco Credit Union became Watermark Credit Union. Serving over 1,000 of Puget Sound’s technology and service companies the watermark’s dual meanings-a handcrafted signature used for generations to mark paper or documents with the highest level of quality and a modern euphemism for digital encryption/security to copyright and protect online information- appealed to the credit union on many levels. “After spending months researching the brand equity that had been built over 60 years, we knew the new name had to capture the strength and integrity of the past, but also welcome a new generation of consumers of all ages looking for a better quality financial experience than most large banks are delivering,” said Mark Weber, CEO of Weber Marketing Group. “The word watermark appeals to many generations and speaks to the unique value and personal service their members attach to their credit union.” -mdigiovanni@cutimes.com