As Verity Credit Union nears our 4th anniversary of our “new” name, I watch my fellow credit unions forge their way through name changes.
They’ve been taking their lumps in the press. I have great empathy for them. Reading the blog comments and the recent editorials, makes me cringe for the staff over there.
I’ve been doing some remembering about when we changed our name. Credit unions change their name for a variety of reasons. In our case, we were converting from a federally chartered credit union to a state charter. We had to drop the “federal”.
In the 73 years we have been a credit union, we have actually gone through several name changes. We started out as Postal Workers Credit Union #8. We then changed to Federal Employees Credit Union a few years later. In 1969, we became NW Federal Employees Federal Credit Union. That was a lot of Federals for one name, so our forefathers took one out in 1978 and we were NW Federal Credit Union for many years.
When it was time to take the other federal out, we decided to tackle another issue that had become a bigger problem with the advent of the world wide web.
See, NW was not short for Northwest (as many people believed). As a matter of fact, there is a Northwest Federal Credit Union in Virginia. (although I never knew what was Northwest about the state of Virginia). As more and more people started relying on websites for their source of information, there became more and more confusion between the two of us.
So… since NW didn’t represent an employee group nor the word northwest, we decided to change our name all together.
I’ll never forget the process. It’s hard. If you have ever named a child or a pet, you know what I am talking about. Now, imagine you had to name your child or pet AND they were 13 years old AND you had to get the buy in from everyone in your family (from siblings to distant second cousins). That is what changing a credit union’s name feels like.
We had a few criteria for our name. We wanted something that was a real word – you could look it up in the dictionary. We wanted something that was unique (lots of credit unions in this area have names with northwest connotations and we wanted to stand out). We also wanted something that resonated with our staff.
I remember when I told Dave Miller, our consultant from Phinney Bischoff, that we were going to put the names out to our 23 managers and decide as a group. He had been through the process several times before and gave me strong warnings against that tactic.
Man, did our team ever deliver! We put out the ten suggested names for scrutiny. I remember catching the nervous look on Dave’s face as we engaged in an extremely vigorous debate over each name candidate. But after about an hour, I suggested we each vote.
But after a lively back and forth, we eliminated all but two of the names.
The next day, a smaller group reconvened and after thinking about it for a night, we all agreed on Verity. It was the name that just seemed to fit. It was an easy choice.
Verity means the quality or state of being true or real. It is the word that verify is derived from.
That concept really spoke to us. Being truthful, honest and acting with integrity is a critical part of our core values. We liked the idea of naming ourselves after one of our fundamental creeds.
Of course, I took some ribbing about it. Shortly after we announced the name, the latest James Bond movie had Madonna playing a character named Verity. Many people asked if we had named our credit union after her. My husband asked me why we chose a name that most west coast people can’t pronounce (we tend to be lazy with our t’s and say things like wadder, ledder and veridy instead of water, letter and verity). We did get our share of member complaints. Change is hard.
But four years later, we have a name that our members have come to appreciate and our staff has come to love.
Do I, like everyone else, have an opinion on Red Canoe or Prevail? Well, I know the president and marketing person over at King County Credit Union and they are good people. So I don’t wish any negative press on them. I do have to admire Weyerhaeuser’s spunk in choosing a name as different and memorable as Red Canoe. I guess at the end of the day, I am just thankful we made our change before the invention of the blog.
No biography available.