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HOUSTON -First Educators Credit Union has made a “smart” move to a new name. Effective July 1 the $260 million credit union will change its name to Smart Financial Credit Union. For First Educators Credit Union, entry in the name change game has been sparked in part by its members. With roots as an education-focused institution, Smart Financial CU has experienced a 32% jump in membership since 1998 with professional educators consisting of only 40% of its total member base. “It was something that we had talked about doing for at least three years and given our more diverse membership we knew that it was the right time to make a change,” said Smart Financial CU Public Relations Manager Matt Oltremari. “Since educators started this credit union in the first place 70 years ago we didn’t want to sever that tie so one of the key elements for our new name was making sure that would tie back somehow to education.” Wanting to develop a fresh image that hadn’t been used in the credit union industry before Smart Financial turned to a firm that didn’t deal exclusively with credit unions- Atlanta-based branding/advertising agency Adrenaline, Inc. Over some three months the agency sat down with the credit union name change committee, which consisted of senior management, marketing, and facilities executives, to help reveal the credit union’s new brand identity. Oltremari says a list of 100 names was narrowed down to six and he knew there was one clear winner in the batch. “I was surprised that when it came time to actually select a name that it was almost unanimous that Smart Financial CU was it,” said Oltremari. “It all just clicked together the fresh, bright colors, the look, feel and simplicity of it just helps our members make the connection that it is smart on every level to choose us as their financial institution.” Management unveiled the new name to staffers during a kickoff event at Dave & Busters restaurant where staffers were equally excited about the new name. Members have recently been sent letters advising them of the change and Oltremari says so far the comments have only been positive. While the credit union is initially focused on switching over to the new name, plans to play up the tagline concept of Thoughtful Banking through branch retail graphics, Web and interactive branding, brochures, print and outdoor advertising are being discussed. “The new name represents our continued focus to increase and expand membership among different audiences throughout the region,” said Smart Financial CU President/CEO Gary Tuma. “The change will give a fresh feel and look to our corporate identity and appeal to existing and new members alike.” [email protected]

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