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I must say that editor-in-chief Paul Gentile is really helping ignite my passion for credit unions with his columns on a national branding campaign. Recently, I was in a conversation with a banking consultant who basically did not believe in the credit union movement or even care. Basically, his point was that our members don’t know why we’re unique and they don’t care – we are naive to think that they do care. Our uniqueness is about us and not about them. The gist of the conversation was that if we were going to work with small businesses then we need to approach them like a bank. In essence, if we’re going to play with the big boys then we need to act like the big boys. I couldn’t disagree with him more. Our uniqueness is about our members. We are here to serve them because they own the credit union. If we give up our uniqueness, then we give up our competitive advantage. If we start acting just like a bank, then the bankers win. Even though I do agree that most of our members really don’t understand why we’re different, we shouldn’t change who we are. Instead, we should continue to explain how and why we’re different. That should be our approach to everything we do, “what’s best for our members.” And, I know that’s the approach of credit unions across our nation. As credit union marketers, we spend a lot of our time explaining why we are a unique financial choice. All of those efforts should continue. But, the task is bigger than all of us individually. I believe we need to pool our resources together and create ONE quality brand under the guidance of CUNA. I know that the logistics of this idea are challenging, raising financial support from the credit unions and the state leagues. We need to decide what that brand message will be and where we will allocate our resources. These are challenging choices, but I know if we put the right passionate people in charge, this idea will become a reality. I agree with Gentile – the time is now. He highlighted the accomplishments of 22 credit unions in Washington. Just imagine what 8,000 credit unions and all of the state leagues could do. A strong national brand will benefit ALL credit unions from the very smallest to the very largest. You’ve gotten the attention of the leagues and CUNA. I know from my experience at the Illinois League that the leagues and CUNA rely on open communication from their member credit unions. From my conversations with fellow marketers, there are key individuals are who taking a look at this issue. Keep raising this issue. Kari M. Endres Marketing Director NuMark CU Joliet, Ill.

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