When it comes to rebranding, credit unions have the challenge of presenting a unique and well-defined market position.
One of the credit unions to recently go through this process is Clevr Money – which used the opportunity to also improve its digital offer for members.
The credit union started in 2009 as Blackpool Fylde & Wyre Credit Union but quickly grew to incorporate Preston and other parts of Lancashire. As it expanded in other postcode areas, the credit union had to expand its common bond as well. It initially operated as Guild Money in Preston and kept its original name for Blackpool.
But having two different websites and social media accounts was an administrative burden.
“We decided late last summer to take the plunge and completely rebrand the credit union to bring it up to date,” explains chief executive Mike Barr. “The branding was old and it did not fit in with modern expectations.”
He emphasises that the organisation changed its name but not its values: “We are still about people, not profit. We remain committed to providing fair and affordable loans to those who struggle to get credit elsewhere, and who often end up in a spiral of debt with high interest payday and doorstep lenders.
“But we also want to demonstrate that we’re open for business to everyone in the area, even those who might not necessarily think a credit union is for them. Everybody has the right to access fair credit, and joining the credit union is a genuinely smart option for anyone looking to save or borrow money.
“As a not-for-profit lender there are no shareholders walking away with big pay outs. The money is reinvested or shared with members, so we are able to offer some of the fairest interest rates around. But many people don’t realise this, or that the money they pay back or save is used to help other local people needing support. That’s being clever with money, and it’s what CLEVR Money is all about.”
The credit union used the rebranding exercise to diversify its digital offer with a new website where people can apply for loans online, simplifying the amount of paperwork needed. Once they submit their details, the credit union runs a credit check and gets back to those who are successful with a loan offer and information about what it means to be a member of a credit union.
“The new branding gives us leeway about being clever with money. It’s not about poverty and debt but doing something clever that you might be doing already,” says Mr Barry.
The credit union worked with an agency, but a subcommittee of its board of directors also had an input in approving the final branding, which was revealed in November.
Referring to the process, Mr Barry warned against the temptation to say too much in a logo or brand. “We nearly put in the words ‘savings and loans’ – but in end we chose something simple: ‘clever’ and the word ‘money’, which includes all budgeting and advice and encompasses a lot more than ‘saving and loans’.”
So far the results have been positive. Since rebranding, the number of new joiners has almost doubled.
“We are competing in a dynamic and rapidly growing marketplace,” says Mr Barry.
“In a changing world, where 63% per cent of people use online banking, we need to keep pace. This new look and feel, and the new website, will help us to do that. This is just the start of a redevelopment of the business which will see more loan products and savings schemes offered to help people avoid sky high interest rates.”