PORTLAND, Ore. – In a twist that is in keeping with the “people helping people” philosophy, Portland Teachers CU’s recent name change to OnPoint Community Credit Union has proven to be a boon for Point West Credit Union. According to Point West CU Vice President of Marketing /Business Development Mike Fletcher, ever since the $2 billion credit union’s name change media blitz began airing in the Portland area, his $100 million credit union opened a record number of new accounts in January. “It’s hard to say how much of the increase can be attributed to the efforts of the credit union around the corner, but it appears to be helping,” said Fletcher. “It’s similar to having free television ads run for our credit union.” After 68 years as MULTCO CU, the credit union made a name change to Point West CU in 2001. In 2004 Point West CU kicked off its first ever advertising bid to the public with radio and newspaper spots that focused on the community and local neighborhood with the tagline “You that’s the point”. “We had several years of little to no growth and shifted our marketing focus at the end of 2004,” said Fletcher. “We added a handful of products and merged with a smaller credit union in 2005. Our average number of new members increased by 262% compared to 2004, not including the members acquired through the merger so we had some momentum heading into 2006.” In addition to opening a record 251 new memberships in January of 2006, which is not typically one of Point West CU’s strongest months, the first tip off that they may be benefiting from the buzz about OnPoint came in the form of confused members. “We’ve had at least one OnPoint member walk into our branch just lost thinking it was a Portland Teachers branch and we’ve had some of our own members ask if there was a merger or if there is a connection between the two credit unions,” said Fletcher. “We heard they were changing their name almost a year ago and it was disappointing when they chose a name so close to ours that would be a little confusing, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting us.” Adding to the confusion is that both credit unions are in the Portland area and according to Fletcher both CUs’ messages and the lifestyle images used to portray the credit union difference in promotional materials are very similar. “They are so much larger than us. They have 11 branches and we have two, they are an over $2 billion institution and we are at $100 million, so although we’ve been around since 1932 they may not have been aware of us when they made the choice of OnPoint as the new name,” said Fletcher. “We’re not sure where we go from here as far as marketing beyond just staying true to our messaging and our values. So far it seems to be working out okay.” -mdigiovanni@cutimes.com