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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – First Resource Federal Credit Union may not be giving away cars like Oprah but it stands ready to help its members get where they need to go- by simply repositioning its brand. With the release of a new tagline, We’ll get you there, the $410 million credit union has launched its latest brand awareness campaign. “We were growing rapidly but we never defined our market position, image or personality,” said FRFCU Vice President of Marketing Donna J. Rohrer. “It’s important to take your time with it. Lots of people say let’s just get it done but for a brand to connect with members it is important to do it systematically and look at more than one concept so you present something that is true to who you are.” After completing a few months of comprehensive research that included surveys of employees and members and nonmembers alike across all markets, the credit union began searching for an advertising agency that could breathe life into its brand. “I can’t emphasize enough how critical a step the research is,” said Rohrer. “While there weren’t any surprises our research helped validate our hunches that members love us because we treat them like individuals and don’t group them together and nonmembers still don’t understand the credit union difference. We now have a baseline going forward so research is never a wasted effort. It is easy to lean a ladder against the wrong wall and not realize it until you get to the top-then your stuck starting from scratch.” Playing up the individuality angle the credit union, along with South Bend, Indiana-based Upside Marketing, developed collateral around the concept that FRFCU understands that each person’s goals are a little different than anyone else’s and that’s why FRFCU “takes the time to get to know you and find out exactly where you’re coming from.” “Our stake in the market is that we genuinely care and we’ll do what it takes to get members where they want financially,” said Rohrer. For Rohrer the research is a constant. Once the brand was established Rohrer rolled it out to staffers and piloted the marketing materials in April to coincide with the grand opening of its Arkansas branch. “Branding is more than just an ad or a brochure so that’s why we made sure employees really understood that they personify our brand and that brand has to be true to the experience of members,” said Rohrer. “And what better way to test out that brand than with a new branch where we could gauge member response to see if they understood the connection. The response was overwhelmingly positive.” To ensure the brand consistently plays out across all cultures and markets, images are tailored to reflect regional and cultural differences. For example, with the more upscale Holland and St. Joseph markets where activity revolves around the lake materials feature a middle age couple standing in front of a yacht whereas in the more landlocked Arkansas market the same couple is standing in front of an RV. Rohrer says every delivery channel from the Web site, print ads and direct mailings to radio spots and billboards have all been revamped to build brand awareness by listing a set of members’ needs and ending with the tagline We’ll get you there. The campaign’s next phase featuring FRFCU products and services is scheduled to rollout sometime during the third quarter of 2005. [email protected]


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