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TREVOSE, Pa. -Philadelphia Telco Credit Union thinks it has found the secret to launching a successful name change – get the employees pumped up and make sure they’re the first to know. That’s exactly what the CU did to get its new name, TruMark Financial Credit Union, the reception it deserved, said TruMark Financial CU CEO Richard Stipa. “Employees’ support of a new identity is a critical component for a smooth transition,” said Stipa. “Positive employees create a positive environment. That, in turn, bolsters member acceptance of a new name.” After surveys revealed some 70% of its members live and work outside the Philadelphia area and that the majority of members did not understand what “telco” meant, the $700 million credit union made moves to change its name. Stipa says working with a professional naming company helped the credit union find “a name that is classic and will last another 80 years and will help us be seen as a financial institution that can serve all of our members’ financial needs.” To help employees get fired up about a new name, the credit union closed early one day and had five chartered motor coaches pull up to whisk some 212 employees away for a surprise getaway at Dave & Busters, a restaurant and entertainment complex on the waterfront. “Once we knew that we were changing the name and the brand, we knew we really wanted to do something special for the employees,” said TruMark Financial CU Marketing Supervisor Christian Roach. “Because we knew that all the advertising and public relations would all fall down if at the magic moment members ask about the new name, employees were not enthusiastic about it. So a fun-filled atmosphere, good food, and camaraderie were the foundation for our communication plan to announce the new name.” The element of surprise was key to pulling it off, says Roach. It proved to be one surprise after another as employees were treated to a buffet lunch and all the arcade and interactive games they could play. After about two hours the staffers were led to an onsite auditorium where the lights suddenly dimmed to black. As staffers speculated about what was going on a video depicting the changes the credit union and the City of Philadelphia have undergone through the past six decades was played. “We could not have asked for a better reaction, employees sang along to Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” and laughed and cheered as they relived the changes in fashion, music, sports, politics, and financial services they’ve witnessed over the years,” said Roach. “Just as the video was about to introduce the credit union’s new name, we planned for the tape to `break’ and have the screen go to static to further build the anticipation.” While attempts were made to “fix” the problem, recently retired 43-year credit union veteran Gertrude Nawrocki came onstage to christen the new name. “Gert is our credit union’s matriarch, so to have her introduce the new name to her former colleagues was not only appropriate but it also helped prevent any possible resistance to the change,” said Roach. “If she is behind the name then why wouldn’t anyone else be? Like our chairman said we couldn’t think of anyone better to usher in a new era. Our only measure of this event being a success was if employees left liking the name-and they loved it and more importantly were excited about it.” Employees left the event with their own TruMark Financial Credit Union bag filled with a TruMark Financial polo shirt, sweater, coffee mug, mouse pad, and pens along with new business cards. The event closed with a raffle drawing. Two dozen employees walked away with new TruMark Financial briefcases and the twenty-fifth winner claimed not only a briefcase but also a new laptop computer. Over the next two days, Roach says employees participated in 45-minute training sessions – reviewing question and answer sheets and the communications timeline – so that they could confidently handle any member concerns. A week after the employee name change event, letters were sent to members explaining the changes and boxes filled with TruMark Financial CU advertising specialties and information packages went to over 550 Ambassadors at the credit union’s sponsor companies. In addition, Trumark Financial CU kicked off an advertising campaign including billboards, bus panels, newspaper, and radio to coincide with the official public name launch on October 6. So far the member reaction to the new name has been overwhelmingly positive at about 91% and Stipa says that response can be linked back to the employees’ enthusiasm. [email protected]

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