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Editor-in-Chief Paul Gentile was absolutely correct in his March 29 column “Making the Case for “Members,” when he stated that member ownership is the only sustainable point of differentiation for credit unions. But before we create a national branding initiative we need to find out if the member’s perception of the credit union brand includes “ownership.” The member dictates the credit union brand, not the board or management or the advertising agency – the members own the brand. I was with CUNA when it initiated the national member research that resulted in “America’s Credit Unions, Where People Are Worth More Than Money.” The program and tag line were developed based upon the direct input from credit union members all across the country. Trust and respect were two emotions all of the members agreed upon when they described their relationship with their credit union. The members we surveyed did not “feel” like an owner in their credit union. While most members trust their credit union and feel respected when they do business with their credit union, they are not made to feel like an owner of the credit union. My caution is before we position credit unions as the place where “Membership Means Ownership,” we better make sure we can deliver on the promise or we could end up with a lot of disillusioned members. The result for most credit unions will be having no sustainable point of differentiation in a very competitive market place. Kevin Lytle CEO Member Allegiance LLC Sun Prairie, Wis.

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