In response to the “Call for ‘Bank’ Entries” letter from Gregg Stockdale, and with all due respect to that unique call to action to re-label what we do, I believe that an attempt to redefine what credit unions do as anything other than banking is counterproductive. We draw distinctions from banks in many other ways, such as referring to our customers as members, labeling what are essentially CDs as share certificates, and, of course, in the levels of service and member satisfaction that we as credit unions all strive for.
“Banking” is for all intents and purposes a verb and where individuals choose to do their banking is by no means relegated to banks. There are dozens of examples of similar situations in other industries but perhaps the most glaring recent example is with Google. People now use “googling” as a verb and almost interchangeably with “doing a search” and yet there are 165 million people who use Bing and another 160 million that use Yahoo! to do their searches. Should Bing and Yahoo! be taken aback and upset that people might “google a topic on Bing” or should they embrace the results they get instead? The fact is that Google dominates the market in much the same way banks dominate ours in terms of market share and to deny this by trying to create a new verb (“binging” or “yahooing” in this case) will only add to the confusion. Adding lengthier phrases such as “money management” may create a very different form of confusion, perhaps putting us in line with brokerages and investment firms. Consumers know the term banking. And make no mistake, it is in fact what we do.
In New Jersey, our league has firmly adopted and embraced this philosophy and developed a brand known as “Banking You Can Trust.” The advertising has been successful and enlightened many people, particularly in the Northeast where credit unions are less prominent, who have always wondered, “Well, what does a credit union actually do?”
This tag line to me resonates far better than attempting to redefine who we are. In this particular case our New Jersey Credit Union League has taken banking, the verb, and distinctly added the credit union difference right into their tag line. It may be only four words, but it captures a lot and does not bow to bankers that say our industry should not even be allowed to use the word banking.
I respectfully submit that we should not muddy the waters further but rather, simplify the descriptions of what we do while highlighting what makes us a superior alternative to banks.
Chief Sales Officer
VP of Marketing & Lending
Garden Savings FCU