Credit Union Rebrand Backlash: What to expect to hear from members

Samantha Strickland
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The number one fear we hear before a credit union votes to rebrand is “What if members get mad and leave the credit union?” It’s an understandable concern. We do live in “cancel-culture-ready” times. 

However, before you worry about the aftermath of rebranding, are you confident in your rationale to change your credit union’s identity? If you know that objectively it’s the right thing to do for the long-term viability of the credit union, continue reading and arm yourself with real-world data about the “backlash.” (Spoiler alert - it’s less than you think.)

  1. Complaints about losing core identity: This issue heavily relates to how closely your credit union is still tied to your original core group. The feedback will come from older members who are proud to claim decades of tenure with the credit union and will indicate disappointment that you’ve “turned your back” on the original SEG (select employer group). This is a fiercely loyal, vocal group who very well might question your sanity about the new name, logo, colors, font, and anything else that deviates from the way it’s always been. (Remember, some people will resist change no matter what.)
  1. Backlash about the new credit union name: A fraction of your membership will inevitably think whatever name you choose is stupid. They will question your methodology, expertise, and rationale. It’s simply in their nature to reject anything new.

  2. Everyone’s an art critic: New branding inevitably turns an average consumer into a visual arts expert. No matter what colors, symbols, or font you choose, they will question your judgment about the credit union’s new logo. These comments are usually intended to elicit laughs online.

  3. Concerns about being “bought out”: No matter how many times you explain to the credit union’s membership that you aren’t being acquired or bought out, there will be feedback that says you were a much better financial institution before the “take-over.” Focus on the real complaint, which isn’t about the name change; it’s actually a service issue.

Based on the number of complaints received during all the rebrands we've facilitated, the best estimate for the number of formal complaints a credit union will receive is less than .2% of average CU membership. But even hearing from that tiny percent can be extremely stressful when experienced in a microcosm. If you get nervous along the way, refer back to the objective reasons the BOARD VOTED TO REBRAND. The decision wasn’t made in a silo, so look passed the short-term chaos and focus on the future.

And don’t worry that current members will leave in droves due to a rebrand. Honestly, they just don’t care that much, and changing financial institutions is a pain. Even if they complain, they’re really just blowing off steam and will get over it in no time.  

When it’s all said and done, the rebranding process is exhilarating and rewarding when it’s handled at the right time in the right way. Don't let the fear of a minuscule number of complaints deter you from what is in the best interest of the credit union's long-term strategic vision.

*Based on information gathered by The Pod during various rebrand

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