I must say that editor-in-chief Paul Gentile is really helpingignite my passion for credit unions with his columns on a nationalbranding campaign. Recently, I was in a conversation with a bankingconsultant who basically did not believe in the credit unionmovement or even care. Basically, his point was that our membersdon't know why we're unique and they don't care – we are naive tothink that they do care. Our uniqueness is about us and not aboutthem. The gist of the conversation was that if we were going towork with small businesses then we need to approach them like abank. In essence, if we're going to play with the big boys then weneed to act like the big boys. I couldn't disagree with him more.Our uniqueness is about our members. We are here to serve thembecause they own the credit union. If we give up our uniqueness,then we give up our competitive advantage. If we start acting justlike a bank, then the bankers win. Even though I do agree that mostof our members really don't understand why we're different, weshouldn't change who we are. Instead, we should continue to explainhow and why we're different. That should be our approach toeverything we do, “what's best for our members.” And, I know that'sthe approach of credit unions across our nation. As credit unionmarketers, we spend a lot of our time explaining why we are aunique financial choice. All of those efforts should continue. But,the task is bigger than all of us individually. I believe we needto pool our resources together and create ONE quality brand underthe guidance of CUNA. I know that the logistics of this idea arechallenging, raising financial support from the credit unions andthe state leagues. We need to decide what that brand message willbe and where we will allocate our resources. These are challengingchoices, but I know if we put the right passionate people incharge, this idea will become a reality. I agree with Gentile – thetime is now. He highlighted the accomplishments of 22 credit unionsin Washington. Just imagine what 8,000 credit unions and all of thestate leagues could do. A strong national brand will benefit ALLcredit unions from the very smallest to the very largest. You'vegotten the attention of the leagues and CUNA. I know from myexperience at the Illinois League that the leagues and CUNA rely onopen communication from their member credit unions. From myconversations with fellow marketers, there are key individuals arewho taking a look at this issue. Keep raising this issue. Kari M.Endres Marketing Director NuMark CU Joliet, Ill.

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