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It's A Go For New Name, Goodbye To An Old One

Some items picked up at a recent Spring Editorial Yard Sale:

It's about time. Five years ago marketing and branding consultant Paul Lucas offered readers of Credit Union Journal first crack at a new name he was offering for free on a first-come, first-served basis to any credit union looking to change its name: Go Credit Union, or Go FCU for federal charters.

I recall thinking as the story went to press (CU Journal, June 4, 2007) that the name was such a good one-especially compared to a few of the names some credit unions (after what were apparently long weekend retreats at micro-breweries) had chosen, that it would be snapped up by someone as soon as Credit Union Journal began hitting readers' desks. I was wrong, and for once actually surprised to be, because the name has so many plusses.

As Mr. Lucas shared in that article, the name lends itself to any number of promotional tie-ins (Go Checking, Go Loans, On The GO Internet Banking, etc.), and the name itself is both a verb and a noun. And yet despite a few inquiries, the name went unused, becoming a No Go, even as some credit unions were spending quite a bit of money on new names for which the members should have demanded a refund.

Well, no more. Go is a go.

Dallas Telco FCU announced it is changing its name to GO Federal Credit Union. Like so many others, DTFCU was founded 75 years ago to serve a specific membership, in this case local telephone and communication workers. It now has a community charter and, not surprisingly, the need for a new name.

The Go name, said Lucas in that 2007 article, "establishes a fresh, vibrant brand personality. It's short, memorable and easy to spell. It's fun. And young. And it fits on banners and business cards and leaves lots of white space.

"GO Credit Union would probably have to be a community charter credit union, in an urban market, with a strong retail philosophy-and a brave management team with a marketing director that understands branding and retail messaging," Lucas wrote. "Once you start exploring the possibilities of where we could GO from here it starts to get interesting."

If you want to see all the possibilities the name provides, you can find Lucas' article in the CU Journal archives.

Incidentally, Lucas, who is based in Virginia and has been involved in numerous successful CU name changes, registered a number of related URLs for Go Credit Union and in that 2007 article offered to provide them to any CU taking his suggestion and running with the Go name. The new Go FCU has opted for the URL www.mygofcu.org.

Speaking of names... The numerous mergers and FOM changes have led to the demise of many a once proud moniker and the turning of another page in the Book of Credit Union History. Before it fades away, one page deserving of mention is recent news that a classic old name in credit unions is now no more: Filene Federal Credit Union. Founded initially as the Filene Cooperative Association CU before becoming Filene CU in 1939 (and Filene FCU in 1994), it initially served, of course, employees of Boston-based Filene's Department Stores, owned by the family of Ed Filene, who would become the financial patron of the U.S. credit union movement in its early days.

Over the decades the sponsor changed, as it did for so many credit unions. Filene's Department Stores (including its well known Basement brand) was acquired by May Department Stores, and then by Federated Department Stores. In 2006, Filene the credit union had to move out of Filene the building.

Now Filene FCU has been put on the clearance rack and acquired by Webster First FCU. Let's hope Webster First finds a way to integrate and pay a bit of tribute to that proud CU name.

How do you know when someone is no longer feeling the love? I have an idea. While driving recently through central Michigan on an overcast, late winter day I spotted a rather desolate looking Super 8 Motel just off a freeway, sitting by itself and squatting alone inside a border of yellow-brown grass. Emblazoned on its sign out front was the message, "Ask About Our Romance Packages."

In Las Vegas recently I came across one of those oversized casino/hotel pools that have become attractions unto themselves. But in this case it was completely empty of any water. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised; it was, after all, the Mirage.

A story that deserves more attention within credit unions is one recently broken by Credit Union Journal's Ed Roberts: the number of banks that have converted to Subchapter S tax status. As reported in the April 2 issue, some 2,306 banks have made the move to Subchapter S organizations, enabling banks to claim a tax exemption roughly equivalent to that for all the nation's credit unions. Those banks, Mr. Roberts reported, earned close to $4 billion in tax-exempt net income, allowing them to skirt the 35% corporate income tax rate. Among those banks are 65 of more than $1 billion in assets.

Funny how you don't hear much about that from the bank lobby when its railing out against that unlevel playing field.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at

fdiekmann@cujournal.com.

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