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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – MidWest Financial Credit Union has given birth to a new brand, proving that it is never too late to reach out to its core group. After a week of teasing on billboards and direct mailing that it “is expecting” in April, the $135 million credit union unveiled the University of Michigan Health System Financial brand. “This is not a name change,” said MidWest Financial CU President/CEO Larry Knoll. “UMHSF is a new service we are offering to our members-one of the many new services we have rolled out since our inception in 1938.” According to MidWest Financial CU Marketing Assistant Lora Bingham, the unique dual brand strategy was designed as a way to reconnect with University of Michigan Health System employees, retirees and volunteers. Originally founded as the University of Michigan Hospital Employees Credit Union, the credit union changed its name in 1998 to MidWest Financial CU while moving its branch away from the hospital to expand its reach in the community. “We realized that although our community ties were getting stronger we seemed to be losing our affiliation with the health system – which was never our intent or goal,” said Bingham. “The UMHSF brand is a way for us to better identify with those members for whom the credit union was originally founded.” Working with Plymouth, Michigan-based marketing/advertising agency Images & Ink, MidWest Financial CU built on the idea of packaging products and services under a new brand. The possibilities for the brand are endless says Bingham. For example, a large number of the hospital employees move from other states to do their residency at the hospital, so under the UMHSF brand a special mortgage package may be tailored to suit their needs. The affiliation with the new brand is not exclusive. Current members who want the UMHSF services can simply inform the credit union and the SEG codes on the accounts would be switched accordingly. According to Knoll, choosing to be part of the MidWest Financial brand or the UMHSF brand is like “choosing to be called Robert or Bob” the emphasis is on letting the members decide which brand best identifies their needs. “Our greatest challenge as far as marketing will be just getting across the message to members that although this is a new brand the credit union will still have the same people, same name, same great service and the same dedication to the financial education and well-being of every member- regardless of which brand they receive service under,” said Bingham. The initial roll out has been fairly quiet with “reveal” billboards and postcards featuring a newborn being introduced as the “newest member of the family” on April 1 and personal letters from Knoll explaining the new brand sent to SEGs and members later on that week. According to Bingham despite the “soft” launch so far member response has been only positive. “People have been calling and the first thing they say is sign me up for the health system brand,” said Bingham. Currently all marketing materials are the same, but in the near future UMHSF products and services will have their own look and feel. For now, May 9th will mark the UMHSF brand official kickoff event, which will be broadcast live with local radio station Cool 107. Activities will include promotional raffles, two-day-only loan and certificate specials, giveaways and even a few surprises. [email protected]

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