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SYDNEY, Australia – Although Australian credit unions constantly win kudos on surveys for their client service, they still face stiff competition from banks. The Credit Union Service Corporation of Australia (CUSCAL) has just released an implementation guide to help their credit union members to position themselves without compromising their individual images. The project to create a strong positioning statement took a year to develop from conception to the issuance of the guide to all member credit unions and involved major participation from the credit unions themselves. Australian CUs, unlike their U.S. counterparts, are taxed. They are not bound by a common bond, although many members came from the original sponsor base before the common bond was eliminated. So credit unions can and often do compete against each other as well as other types of financial institutions. During the November 2003 CUSCAL convention, the issue of overall credit union branding was a subject of discussion. CUSCAL subsequently held a workshop inviting representatives from all types of credit unions – big, medium, small, industrial, community and regional – to help plan the next step. Gary Bertwistle, founder and director of Blue Moon Creative, a Sydney agency, was brought in to facilitate. Bertwistle started by asking participants to answer three questions: Who do we want to attract? What are we selling? How are we different? At the same time as they tried to differentiate themselves from banks, the credit unions wanted to maintain their individuality from one another. The solution was to create a strong positioning statement that could be used by all credit unions. Workshop participants decided that the acceptance of such a statement had to be voluntary, flexible and there had to be a guarantee of long term support from CUSCAL. Credit unions could choose to either fully integrated the statement into all their marketing elements (website, print materials, media ads) or only within key components. They could also vary the look to fit their own branding images. The statement they developed was “Credit Unions – a different kind of banking.” The 2004 Chairs’ and CEOs’ CUSCAL conference accepted the statement. In adopting a national credit union positioning statement CUSCAL asked credit unions to look into their own attitudes to see if they were representative of the credit union philosophy. This is the list of the eight questions CUSCAL developed for CUs to consider: 1. Do you offer a member benefit? 2. Are you people-centred? 3. Do you offer personal service? 4. Are you locally focused? 5. Do you support the “community” in which you operate through socially responsible activities? 6. Do you offer competitive products and services? 7. Are your fees and charges fairer then competitors? 8. Does your community understand what a `credit union’ means? The finalized implementation guide included a background to how it was developed as well as examples on how the statement could be incorporated into all credit unions’ marketing materials. At the same time credit unions were asked to evaluate their own marketing philosophies and abilities. Peter Hansen, spokesperson for CUSCAL, expressed his excitement and confidence in the statement to help in marketing efforts across the country. -

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