The mid-Michigan financial marketplace is highly competitive, and when Central Macomb Community Credit Union (CMCCU) realized its brand and positioning were no longer aligned with the scope of its member base, possibly posing an impediment to growth, it reached out to MarketMatch for help creating a new name, brand and positioning. Thus FreeStar Financial Credit Union was born.
How We Created FreeStar Financial Credit Union
CMCCU was originally established in 1957 at what is now the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. In those days it was known as Selfridge Air Force Base Credit Union. In its early years, the Credit Union’s members consisted of military personnel and supplemental staff at Selfridge Air Force Base.
Shortly before contacting MarketMatch, CMCCU had been approved for a nine-county geographic expansion, and a statewide military member expansion. Suddenly the Central Macomb Community Credit Union name became geographically restrictive. (And let’s be honest, it had always been a mouthful to say.) The credit union wanted a new brand and name that would reflect a progressive future and a chance to broaden its member scope while maintaining and celebrating its military heritage.
To that end, MarketMatch undertook the following actions:
- Shopped the CU’s branches and competitive locations to gauge experience
- Interviewed staff to:
- Identify potential hurdles
- Identify strengths and weaknesses
- Identify front-line opinion of member perceptions and personality traits
- Analyzed competitive messaging and brand strengths
- Conducted member interviews for a deep-dive understanding of their use, brand perception, and need
- Analyzed core data to understand member usage patterns and opportunity gaps
- Conducted a market survey of non-CMCCU members to gain blind awareness, purchase criteria and financial need
- Mapped member households and product usage to gain a top-down view
- Conducted market analysis, site selection research, and location potential in the expanded nine-county marketplace
“The expertise of MarketMatch, the creativity brought to our organization, and attention to detail were exceptional. Their brand process uncovered a unique positioning for our credit union, and the entire team with our new name and brand.” – Drema Isaac, President and CEO, FreeStar Financial Credit Union
While the CMCCU name had little brand equity, the organization had many strengths. The analysis of our research confirmed that a new name was the right step to take.
A new name: FreeStar Financial
The name FreeStar Financial salutes the credit union’s military past and is geographically neutral. FreeStar is also rich in positive connotations such as freedom, aspiration, guidance, navigation, and success.
A new logo
Without question, the star is one of the most iconic, meaningful symbols in this country. As a celestial image it can signify the many aspirations and dreams the credit union’s members want to reach. As a symbol associated with navigation, the star can speak to the guidance and clarity the credit union provides. Finally, as a salute to the CU’s military history, the star stands for freedom and bravery. The yellow and black elements conjure an image of a plane, which is a nod to the CU’s air force military roots. The combination of the yellow, black and grey colors represent the credit union, member, and community coming together and working as a team.
New tagline: Take Your Dreams Higher
The new tagline, Take Your Dreams Higher, perfectly complements the new name, as the word “higher” resonates with the “star” in FreeStar. The tagline pays off the promises (freedom, guidance, peace of mind) implicit in the new name, with its very aspirational, “if you dream it, we can help you do it,” message.
To effectively roll out this new brand, staff buy-in and training were (and always are) imperative.
- Individual accountability
- Brand positioning insights and actionable words/actions to bring the brand to life in all interactions with members
- Teamwork and collaboration
And last but not least, MarketMatch created a portfolio of front-line tools to help staff have better conversations with members and make smarter product recommendations.
We launched the new FreeStar Financial brand on April 4, 2016, and the initial results from the rebrand (Year-over-Year comparison, 2015 to 2016) are nothing short of WOW:
|DDA (Checking) 2015||443|
|DDA (Checking) 2016||540||+ 22%|
|Loan Balances 2015||$10,535,709|
|Loan Balances 2016||$11,714,365||+ 11%|
|Deposit Balances 2015||$4,800,000|
|Deposit Balances 2016||$9,300,000||+ 94%|
|New Members 2015||790|
|New Members 2016||955||+ 21%|
|Closed Accounts 2015||543|
|Closed Accounts 2016||497||– 8%|
“We conducted a national search for a marketing and branding partner, and MarketMatch impressed me and our board with their knowledge of our needs, expertise, and thorough planning and delivery timeline. The membership has embraced our brand, and our positioning in the market allows us to expand and grow. I would highly recommend MarketMatch as your next marketing partner.” – Drema Isaac, President and CEO, FreeStar Financial Credit Union
Don’t Let Your Brand Hold You Back
The simple truth is that bank and credit union brands can become outdated. You grow, you change, and your market evolves. Just make sure your brand evolves with you. Make sure, in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, that it is working for you and not against you.
Want to talk about your brand? Let’s do launch. Give us a call at 937-371-2461 or shoot us an email.