Making a statement: Lessons from a successful rebrand
Rebrands favor the bold, especially for an organization with a rich history and ambitious growth objectives aiming to expand their geographical footprint and evolve their product offerings. The question becomes, how do you do that without alienating your community and legacy customers? Joining our special guest host Brian Elkins this week, Alejandro Yu, Vice President of Marketing at Raiz Federal Credit Union, shares his most important rebrand lessons. He explains everything the Raiz team had to consider during the rebrand process that allowed them to build a modern brand that celebrates the future of the organization and honors their decades-old legacy. Alejandro also shares tips on how to navigate socializing a major change with a wide range of stakeholders while simultaneously continuing to move the process forward, and ways to approach the unpredictable parts of the process.
About Alejandro Yu
With over 15 years of experience in the marketing industry, Alejandro has honed his skills in various areas, including strategic marketing planning, advertising, digital marketing, creative content, branding, and marketing research. As the Vice President of Marketing at Raiz FCU in El Paso, TX, Alejandro leads an incredible team that’s passionate about making a positive impact in the community. Alejandro and his team have done great work to revolutionize the credit union industry and helped the El Paso community with innovative strategies and ideas. The recent rebranding of Raiz FCU has been awarded ten major marketing awards by national, regional, and marketing industry organizations.
When not in the office, Alejandro is an avid traveler who loves exploring new places and cultures. Born in El Paso and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Alejandro is a true product of the dynamic U.S.-Mexico border. This unique background has given him a deep appreciation for different cultures and perspectives, which he brings to every project he works on.
Thanks for joining us on the show. I’m excited to have you. It’s been some time in the making knowing all that you have been through, but I’m thrilled to have you here to chat about your experience both in the credit union space and, in particular, with the rebrand that you went through. Thanks again for joining us. Why don’t you go ahead if we don’t mind starting by way of introduction? Tell us a bit about yourself, Alex, your role at Raiz Federal Credit Union, and a bit of your background. That’d be great.
It’s great to see you. I know it’s been a while since we have been able to have a conversation again about this very exciting and meaningful project. I can’t wait to do a little bit of a deep dive with you as we go to this episode. My name is Alex Yu. I am the Vice President of Marketing here at Raiz Federal Credit Union.
We used to be El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union, but we went over a rebrand, which was very exciting and extremely successful. We are a $1 billion credit union here in El Paso, Texas. We started off serving educators, but several years ago, we expanded to general populations. We wanted to make sure that we went through our journey of rebranding based on that.
A little bit about myself. All my life, my professional life have been in the financial marketing world. I started in another credit union advertising and promotions. I have worked myself up into the marketing and advertising world when it comes to credit unions. I started in 2008. It’s been quite a few years that I have been in this industry and I’m very excited about it. I love what I do.
It’d be interesting from my perspective. We work with folks in your role across a number of different industries. Heading up marketing and brand within the credit union spaces is unique as in other places, but I will be curious to get your take on your role at the credit union and how you view the role of brand in the credit union world itself. What makes it unique and what are some of the unique opportunities and challenges you face in that space?
Credit unions, in general, are unique. A lot of people might not have the full awareness of what we are as an industry. They might think of us as another bank, but there are a lot of other factors that make us different. The philosophy of credit unions is people helping people. It is a way of bringing in not the financial world but the cooperative world, which in itself is very interesting and has a lot of history not just in the United States but in general.
Credit unions started in Germany centuries ago. What makes it so great about the credit union industry is branding and marketing in that industry is that connection with our community. Our credit union and all credit unions are owned by its members. We have a big responsibility and a big task to make sure we support our community and everything we do.
That comes to mind with our branding to make sure that it’s a clear reflection of our community. It also helps support and develop our community, which a lot of financial organizations know that it’s very different. They can become very niche in what they do. They might focus on just businesses, or they might focus on mortgages.
I see a lot of mortgage lenders or investments, but on our side, it’s the life stages of our community and helping our community grow. That makes it very unique, but there are also challenges with that because of credit union industries and how credit unions got started. Credit unions used to be very much about their segment groups.
All credit unions probably started as a segment. Some of them were government employees. Some of them were in the airline industry. Some of them have been in the healthcare industry. There’s a firemen credit union, and like ours, it was an educated credit union. Expanding on that as time changes is unique and interesting because you have to build on your legacy.
That is something very powerful when it comes to branding. How can you build on that legacy? For example, with us, we started in 1936. It’s many years that we have been an organization, and how does that legacy live on throughout all these years and take us to the future of what we want to do with our brand?
It is unique in how we work as an industry with credit unions compared to other organizations, as they think about branding and marketing, and then also the product that we offer. In other organizations, there might be a product. It might be a bottle of a soft drink or it might be a commodity. With us, it’s experiencing. It’s people’s dreams. It’s people’s life goals.
It’s finances, which is very hard for people to talk about or manage. How do we do branding and differentiate ourselves in something that some people consider a chore, which is banking? It’s not an exciting side, but with credit unions, we do a lot of great work on humanizing that. That’s why I love it. That’s why I have always said in the marketing for credit unions because it’s unique and different and always very fun.
I love what you said there and one of the things that always drawn me and I found a lot of interest in the credit union space, in particular, is I don’t think a lot of folks recognize the chunkiness of the strategic challenges that brands face in the credit union space. For the very reason that you raise in terms of a lot of competing messages and things that the organization needs to address in service to that vision.
Humanizing that experience and meeting members where they are and so forth. We have got to be able to tell both the advantages of the cooperative and what that means and how that benefits both the member and the community. We need to tell that community impact story. We need to tell the brass tax financial benefits and solutions that we provide.
That last layer that you mentioned in terms of some of the legacy and that connection to specific segments or groups within an industry focus or geography. Can you talk to me a bit about your legacy there at Raiz Federal Credit Union and what that means in terms of those audiences that you deal with in the community and that teachers’ lifeblood that started the organization’s journey back in the 1930s?
I love the story of our credit union and how we got started. If you look at it, I mentioned before we were a credit union that started with seven educators. Amid the Great Depression, it was a time when you hear the stories, you know what was going on in the country, and then you look at our community. El Paso, Texas, Border Town, a community at that time where people would pass by.
The name El Paso means the pass and it was the place where people from Mexico were coming into the country, which we still see now with everything that’s going on in our border. It’s also a great place, like how we see it now. It’s a great place of opportunity. A great place of community and growth. The story of our organization clearly shows that.
It started with those seven educators during the Great Depression. Instead of moving on to other areas and finding other opportunities when they were going through difficult hardships, they decided to band together, gather their $3,000, and find a way of supporting other educators like themselves and they established our credit union.
Those values that they have are aligned with what we still do here at Raiz. When we decided to go to our rebranding, the conversations that we had with you, it was key that we kept the spirit of that legacy into what we do. That’s what makes us different. You see it not just in our brand, but as we know, the brand is people as well. Our people care about our community that way.
We talked about credit unions and something very different and a big differentiator between us and other financial organizations is scrappiness. We were hungry to help our community and found ways to do it through community development and community impact providing remarkable products and services. Being purposeful in our strategies and our initiatives. It’s crucial for us.
As we see the legacy of those seven educators and when they started in 1936 to what we were able to do with our rebrand, we live that legacy on. As we talk about why it’s important to keep that legacy alive, it goes back to the connection you mentioned about who we are as we started. We started as a credit union for educators.
You and I had a lot of conversations as we were developing this brand. How can we want that spirit to live on of an educator in our brand? What does an educator mean? What does an educator do in somebody’s life? It’s the one that helps you grow. It’s the one that helps that seed grow out those roots and that’s where our name comes from.
Raiz is Spanish for roots, and we wanted to make sure that it was super clear with our legacy because we didn’t want to move away from it completely. Some organizations, when they rebrand, they decide to go completely different to what they are. We wanted to honor, grow, and build on it. I’m very excited to see what drives the pain because that was the strategy that we wanted to do. It was crucial with a rebrand because it’s something that we still value and live within every day, and this rebrand has reinjected that purpose into what we do, which is very exciting.
There’s a constant thread across rebranding efforts that wrestle with the stewardship mentality. This idea is to remain authentic and to honor the legacy of an organization’s heritage and what made it special to begin with. What infused it with a sense of purpose with the realities of changing market dynamics, the need for growth, and the desire to have a greater impact on the communities they serve.
It’d be interesting to hear from your perspective because a lot of credit unions are faced with the same check challenge. They often go through cycles at board meetings where the name comes up because they are attached to a select segment group or geography. I know that’s a tough question to wrestle with. I’m curious to hear a bit about your organization’s journey towards that decision, what informed that, and what brought you to the point of getting serious about the potential of the name change. Further, what were some of the questions and challenges that you foresaw as you all had discourse around the topic of a name change?
We started talking about our name change because of that original name that we had locked us into. First off, a statement. Our name was El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union. It was a mouthful. It made it hard for people to say it, but then we also faced that challenge as we saw the need to help the greater community. We were still seeing the challenge of people telling us, “Your name, TFCU, what does the T stand for?” “Teachers, but you don’t need to be a teacher.” “The name says teachers.”
It created a lot of struggle for our team to connect or even get a foot in the door to help out in certain businesses or areas of our community. We had to have those difficult conversations with our board, our management team, and our members about this change. As other credit unions might tell you, people are very proud of being part of a credit.
We have members that have had generations and that are members or they even say, “My number is still one of those 3-digit numbers when we are now at 7 digits.” It makes it something that they are part of. Change is hard. It’s difficult for people, especially with something that they see day-to-day and they feel they belong and connect to.
It was important as we had conversations about changing our name that we first identified and addressed those concerns but also focused on what the benefits were of the name change, understanding why we wanted to do it. Not because it was nice to do and see what we could get out of it, but to have a purpose behind it and in a way that would still create that connection of who we are.
We talked a lot about it internally when I presented this to our leadership team and board. It’s not completely a new identification or a new identity for us. It was more honing and centering who we are in a new way, not taking away who we are and dismissing our past but looking into the future. That was key to our rebranding discussions and strategies as we talked about it.
I know that for a lot of credit unions, I have seen the rebranding work that they have done. A lot of times, they will want to do something, but they still play it safe. They might still keep a lot of the names on there or not change it too much. It might end up being a disservice in the end because they are going to get to a part of the road where they are going to have to look at another change of their name. It might not be impactful on the community in general.
I highly encourage that as credit unions are going through this process or having these conversations. They keep people and the connection with people as a priority because that’s going to make it a lot easier to understand that you can go and create a brand like Raiz that is very different than our previous name.
It still honors and connects to our legacy and can build on what we want to be in the future. I hope that it’s something that they keep in mind in their conversations because it’s very important. You also don’t want to make it something that you look into and have to change again in ten years. We are committed to Raiz for 50 or 100 years that we hope that it can continue being that brand.
It’s interesting what you touched upon there. Whenever we go through this process, one thing that folks don’t talk a lot about is how powerful a force can be. The one thing that always struck me in working with your organization and continues to be the sense of belief that you get from everybody throughout the process.
I’m curious because we don’t always get from our side to see how that gets developed internally and within your community. I’m curious, even before you got to the decision to start the work and invest in it on your side, how that belief was built in terms of the organization, its people, and the connection to the board.
You mentioned keeping people at the center of the decision-making. I’m curious about the journey that brought you there. In broad strokes, what do you think the critical ingredients are to getting people on board so that when that decision is made, you can make those determinations and you can move with a sense of confidence through the process?
The two things that I would touch on in my experience through this journey are crucial. First off, you want to have engagement from others. It was critical for us and I have talked to other credit unions since our rebrand and some even before it just to see what experience they went through. A lot of the time, the decision-making was done by the marketing team and the CEO.
They are the ones who had all the input. They are the ones that workshop the names and they worked with an agency, which was pretty much it. With us, we wanted to make sure that there was a lot of engagement from different areas in our organization, from our membership and board. Even in our committee, we were developing our new brand and talking about developing it and what we wanted to do from it.
The first part was the engagement of employees. It’s crucial to have meaningful conversations about who we are and what are the gaps in our brand. What are some of the things that we want to keep in our brand? What are some of the things that we want to move away from? Those conversations from different areas in the organization and even our community were critical because they showed us areas that we might have been blind to if it would have stayed on the marketing side, or if it would have been a CEO, or if it would have been the board directors.
That is something that a lot of organizations don’t realize, especially on the credit union side, because we are an industry that values a lot what the board has to say or what’s the CEO going to say. Luckily, our organization has a sectional CEO who believes in collaboration and the value that people and their experiences bring to the table. He was all aboard when I presented that.
I told them that we need to have a diverse group and that diversity is key. It’s diversity of areas, ages, and everything because they are race or gender. Sometimes, we have to realize that the brand has to connect with people at the end of the day. If you don’t have people be part of that, then you are missing the mark. If it’s the hubris of the marketing team or the CEO that directs the brand, then it will get lost because they will like it but never connect with others. That was critical on my end.
The second thing that was critical in order to get this ball rolling and to make sure that people felt confident through the process was having a good partner to help us on that journey. Our experience when we wanted to do a rebrand, we first had those internal conversations, and then we started looking out for experts who have done this before.
We know this is a heavy task and a lot of organizations might never go through a rebrand or only once. It’s hard to understand all that goes around it. It was crucial for us to find an organization that would help us with that. We did a lot of diligence. I remember even the process of sending out the RFPs, interviews and meeting the people that were going to be behind the organizations that we worked with.
Talking with Monaco. A big piece for us was diversity because that’s part of our work. When we met the team, we identified it like, “This is the team that we want to work with. It was because of the expertise and the added value that they had based on our conversations, and also the diversity that they have.” There was direction, work, and experience.
That’s crucial because when I presented them to the board, “This is what we are going to do and this is the organization that we are going to work with.” It made it almost a no-brainer for them to say, “Let’s move ahead,” because we weren’t going to take it with doing it in-house or doing it with an organization that doesn’t have the credibility or the experience and that was very purposeful and meaningful for that.
I highly recommend that organizations look at that. Include people and then find those experts who will help you along the way because you have no idea how important it was and how much it helped us in our journey to have that relationship with you all in Monaco as we went through it. It made it much easier throughout the whole process.
I appreciate you spending this much time with me on the journey to the decision to do this because a lot of the time, we focus on the stuff. It’s quite exciting when you see a new brand come to life and the change that drives an organization. A lot of times, especially in credit unions, but in other organizations, that success is embodying and of all the work it took to get to start the process.
I appreciate you going there because it’s always worth opening a window for people to get a sense of the thoughtfulness and how to get that right because everything else comes together once you do that right and it can fall apart if you don’t spend that time. Get that culture fit right in terms of two organizations that can challenge each other and push the work together because of that trust.
I’d love to hear from your perspective a bit more about once the work got underway, things that were surprising to you that you learned along the way. Things that point to other organizations and say, “These are critical factors of success as we went through the process of selecting a name working through the development and identity launching a brand.” I would love to get your perspective on the high notes of what are some of the more important considerations and maybe some things that even surprise you.
Something that was very much present and I can tell you personally, as spearheading the project of fear, fear is very much part of it. You are afraid of what’s going to happen. Are you going to be that person that has that major failure in your rebrand that everybody hated? Especially with the environment, social media, and the way branding is now, how easy it can be for things to fall apart or for them to become a bad failure.
There’s that constant fear because there’s so much weight behind the decision and the work you need to do. Something important to note as you understand the process and that I learned that it will be surprising is how critical it is to have and lay those foundations of the rebrand. A lot of people don’t realize that you first have to dig deep into who you are and what makes you different.
A lot of times, being in an organization, we have our idea of what makes us different, but remember that branding is not what you say you are. It’s what people say you are. Seeing it from an outside perspective and hearing from you all, like when we were having our interviews and hearing the feedback of people saying this about you and this is what makes you different and you should hone in more on that.
It was a very fulfilling and surprising process. It made it lays the foundations for our brand. I will be honest. When I first started with the process and talking about what we were going to do, we were talking about our rebrand. New name and logo, but we didn’t think about how it was going to become a persona or how it was going to affect our verbal identity.
How do we need to talk, present ourselves, change our look, change our way of doing things, and beg purposeful in our community involvement or community engagement due to the new brand? All of those things might not be something you are thinking of when you are thinking of rebranding, but they have to be critical in order for it to be successful.
What has been very successful with us is even the way that our staff embraced me. I heard horror stories before this from other people who even came to work in our organization and they were saying, “We changed our name. We had this fun event and we launched it to staff.” Our staff at the end was like, “That’s it.” There were crickets. Nobody was excited.
Our launch event was exciting. It was a hype event. Everybody loved it. Everybody left with such great energy, but because there was involvement from our team throughout the process. People felt the brand reflected them and that was critical. Something that I discovered and that I was very surprised about in the process was the lane of the foundations is key to the rebrand, and people should not skip those at all.
Sometimes, it can be very easy to skip that. It’s very important to do that research and then create what Monaco works on with the SMI, the Single-Minded Idea. The Single-Minded Idea is what’s pushing you are initiatives in our strategies and our everyday work. Constantly. If we hadn’t had that experience, then we wouldn’t have developed that. That was all done before we even started talking about named options.
Before we even started looking at logos or colors, it was establishing what our single-minded ideas would be, what our persona would be, and building from that. I was very surprised at that process because I didn’t know that that’s how we were going to go and I remember throughout our conversations of the rebrand, you all and Monaco telling us, “This is how we are going to do it.” At first, I was like, “Let me try to connect the dots,” but then you see it happen and how everything is connected and everything is embedded throughout the brand. It makes it much more powerful.
It makes it meaningful, purposeful, and remarkable, which are the things that I value in our brand. If we hadn’t gone through that process, and again because of having a great partner, we wouldn’t have known and we wouldn’t have been that successful and I can tell you that. There are people that I see in other credit unions.
We have got over ten awards now in the industry. We go to conferences and people know who we are and we are in El Paso, Texas. They immediately say, “I want to know how you guys did it.” As soon as I talk to them about the process, it’s exciting, but it’s things that they don’t even know. They sometimes feel like, “It’s very easy. You change the name, submit it to the NCUA, get a graphic designer to do a new logo and that’s it.”
They don’t realize the legal side. They don’t realize the digital reputation piece, social media reputation, and communication costs. All those things are crucial and can make your whole project fall apart and not have a big impact, but they don’t realize most importantly the work that goes before. The visual design and the visual identity change, where the big investment has to happen.
The SMIs, the brand personas, and the purple identity, all of those things are critical before you get to those other steps. I hope that people, as they read this and realize, “I want to do a rebrand,” that they keep that in mind because that’s the foundation of the building. The logo and the name are just a sign outside, but this is the foundation. This is the architecture and this is how the building is going to work and look great. If we don’t put emphasis on that, then your brand is not going to be strong.
I love the focus there in terms of those foundational elements and how critical they are to imbue the brand in every aspect of the organization. When we worked together, it was one of the surprising moments how verbal identity even started to make us think differently about jobs, department titles, and things like that.
The one thing that the attention to that investment upfront is important. One of the things that we always know in our cognizant while we love building and launching brands is that the real work starts and you alluded to this on day two. After the balloons are down, we have got to keep this thing going. We have got to keep the momentum going and we have got to ensure that this has legs and can continue to inform all that we do. Can you talk to me a bit about how the brand, since you launched, has been embedded in the organization? Any highlights from the way it’s created change within the organization, or things that you have had to work on to make sure that the brand does live on and thrive post-launch?
I’m glad you brought this up because it’s also critical that people realize that rebranding doesn’t mean putting a new logo or anything. If you are changing your brand and have a new persona, you have a single-minded idea, or you talk about all these things, which can sometimes be the external brand. We made it very important to do the internal base of our rebrand, which meant with our staff.
We worked also with the team at Monaco to develop and redefine our values. Our values before when we were TFCU or very traditional leadership, communication, teamwork, and trust. Things that you find in every organization, value structure. For us, we said, “No. We now have to tie them into this brand. How can we make it different?” We came up with an exercise that brought it to these new three values that we have. Empower, uplift, and impact. Those values are now living in everything that we do as an organization.
Changing our employee recognition program has helped with retention efforts and employee engagement, which has helped with our team being satisfied working with us. They are tied to our values and they are tied to our brand. We even have the recognition that has to do with empowering, uplifting, and impact.
It’s also created a new culture when it comes to volunteer work working into the community from our staff. It’s also helped our team be purposeful in the community development side that we focus on because it’s tied to our values. It’s also helped us, even now. We were having a workshop about our job descriptions and we were going to change all of the job descriptions in the organization. We are going to go through that process and throughout the process, we talk about our brand, who we are, and what our persona and how it embeds into the job description, which then is what we utilize to hire people that we want to reflect our brand.
It was critical. That’s the day two work that we are doing right now. We are even working on changing titles and department names to connect them to this brand that we now have because that’s how they will live it. We felt that we didn’t want to put a new sign up and then say, “This is who we are now.” No. We wanted to make it part of our DNA, which means how we talk, describe things, and even greet each other in emails.
People utilize that new brand persona in that. We have seen it reflected in how our team works and how our team seizes themselves in their value in the organization. They are no longer just an employee of a credit union now. They are an empowered mentor. That’s our brand persona, the empowering mentor.
We talk about what that means and how we develop you to become that. That day two is what we live in right now, but it’s very exciting because you see it come to life. You are seeing it become real and you see it in the experience that people have with our brand. All of those things would have happened without the rebrand.
We even do things like our facilities. We were redoing them, doing different signage and changing colors. We also realized that the experience has to tie into our brand. How do we do that? We even created a signature scent for our organization so that when people walk into our branch, they smell it and it identifies the feeling that we want our brand to have, which is empowering, fresh, modern, and tech-friendly.
We went through a process of smelling all these things that had feelings of tight to it, so now it’s part of the experience. It’s something that our members live as we are growing, changing, and making new improvements to our systems. They see it throughout that whole process. Cool things. I don’t think I shared it with you, but we launched our new online banking. I’m part of it.
It also has a chatbot functionality to help our members when we are out of the office so that they can get responses to things that they need. The name of our chatbot is Archie. It’s because of the arch. The arch is a big part of our brand and it’s embedded in our logo and it’s part of our community because it talks about our architecture here in El Paso. It has a lot of arches.
Archie is now part of our chatbot and we are even utilizing the concept of it’s better under the arch and the whole concept behind that. There are still a lot of things that we are doing to embed our brand into the things that we do, but if we wouldn’t have that foundation of our SMI or brand persona to build on, then it would have been very much, but we changed our logo and we change our colors and that was it. Now, it lives on in other things and our team is reflecting it in their areas as well. It’s not just on marketing, so it’s super exciting.
Thank you for bringing up the scent because embrace the four dimensions of brand experience the emotional, the intellectual, the behavioral, and then lastly, the sensorial. Oftentimes, when we list out the sensorial attributes, there’s always one listed there called olfactory. Everyone looks at me and says, “Does anyone really think about their smells?” I always get to use you all as an example of an organization that embraces the idea, the totality of the brand experience from a human’s perspective and how something like scent wasn’t about creating a nice scent. You all created a scent that connects to the ethos that the brand is all about.
I love that example, as well as the chatbot. It’s a fantastic demonstration of how things like visual identity can be cues for other experiences. That visual identity was inspired by the architecture of the community and to see that live on through a digital expression in a digital personality is phenomenal. I love that example.
As we move our way towards the close of this, your metrics of success, things that you point to, whether they are soft or hard metrics that you and the team there pay attention to coming out of the rebrand, both in terms of year 1 and 2 as you are out of this. Also, as you look forward to the things you are paying attention to, ensure that the brand continues to live on and infuse all those ideas you mentioned.
As marketers, we will look at things like ROI and those hard numbers that some CEOs, the board, and your CFOs are going to be asking like, “This is going to be expensive. What’s the ROI on it?” A lot of times, we go by metrics like brand awareness, which is very hard to measure. Unless you do a very robust or meaningful brand awareness survey, it’s going to be hard to get those metrics on there.
A lot of times, we can get pigeonholed into making a decision on a rebrand based on what are going to be the results of that. I want people to also think differently when it comes to results. For us to be a successful rebrand, we talked a lot about how was our staff going to embrace it. That was the first one. We wanted to make sure that our staff felt excited about it and loved it.
I can tell you that, periodically, we open up a store with apparel and everybody buys all the new things. They want to have the logo there. You have no idea how many requests I get, like, “When are we going to get more stuff with our logo on it?” They are super proud of it. They love it. We have made them Raiz Fanatics and it’s great to see because that means that it’s connecting with the people that make the organization.
That can become very infectious to others. We see other people want to work in our organization because of that culture, brand, and what they see of it and how it lives. To me, that was a big measurement of success, making sure that our staff embraced it, loved it, lived it, were big fans of it, and we are seeing that happen. The second thing is we want to make sure that our community has that visibility and connection.
We are seeing that as well. Before, we would be involved in our community, with sponsorships and community work, but now we are seeing and have to be the ones actively looking out. Now we are seeing the opposite effect. We are seeing a lot of people reach out to us and say, “We need to have them involved. We want to be part of it.”
They come to us first and we used to be, not to be mean, but like an afterthought in that way of how they would look at our involvement in sponsorships, community involvement, or community development projects. Now, we are part of it. They want us there. They pray for us to be there and we are constantly talking and having conversations with them.
Other things as well, we saw engagement in the community through our social media talking about it. Social media followers, more people that were visiting our website. We also saw that. The great thing that we saw as well that I saw successful was my peers’ responses on our rebrand. We were very excited.
With Monaco, we received its tenth award that we received on our rebrand. National and regional industry. We are seeing now even multinationals sometimes very exciting to see when your peers recognize that rebrand and they feel that connection and it stands out because it’s very hard to get people’s attention. When we are able to see that, that’s critical for us.
The last thing is that the brand lives in our people. I said that a friend embraces it, but then it’s also very important for our friend to live it or our people to live it. I’m very proud that we have NCUA examiners here at Raiz and they are doing our periodic that they do with our credit union. They mentioned that they went to our branches and talked to our staff because they knew that we did a rebrand and they were so impressed to see how our staff knew the name and the meaning behind it.
It talked about the persona. It talked about what it means and they were excited about it. They honestly told us and these are examiners, so they don’t need to impress us or anything. They have told us that they haven’t seen that in other places that go through a rebrand. They see people that are a little bit still unsure. They might not know or they are not excited and they are set here with everybody that we talked to that we were just interviewing knew it. We didn’t even know they would ask questions like that.
As it’s so alive in our brand and organization, it was reflected in their responses and their energy. That already shows that this is a great success because we are seeing people excited about it. They live it. They love it. They want to work here. They know about it. They care about it. They want to continue seeing it grow, which would be a great way of looking at success.
I love to hear it in terms of all the engagement and everyone taking ownership of it as well. As we close, the two things that I would love to hear because you touched on that at the outset of our conversation. We were talking a bit about fear and navigating this journey. You are thinking of what are the downsides of this professionally and personally.
I’d love to hear from you about what this experience has been like within your organization. Not just the work itself but in the role that you play and personally what’s been most rewarding about it. Maybe we close with any last thoughts for other folks who are in your position, things that if you were to leave them with a couple of bullets of things to think about. That would be fantastic.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that. My professional accomplishments, this is the apex and the work that I have done so far in my career. It’s incredible. It’s very fulfilling. What I loved about it is that it wasn’t just done by me but with a team that worked together and my team here internally and teams from other departments. The team from Monaco and our ad agency that we have here locally that it was a collaborative effort and being able to lead a project like that is extremely fulfilling, especially seeing it come to light.
The launch and then now seeing it every day. I get so proud when I hear people say that, “We are everywhere,” or they get excited about it. We get another pickup on PR or people are talking about us. It’s so exciting because I know that it came from a group of people. One of the big lines we talk about with the rebrand is, “Let’s dream big.” That’s something that we also talked about when we developed a brand and that line, “Let’s dream big,” we utilize anything.
We even have shirts here that every team member has. A place saying that, “Let’s dream big.” I tell our CEO, “When great people come together, we do great things and we do big things here at Raiz,” I love seeing it happen every day. It couldn’t have happened without this project and the work that we all put in, but it was very fulfilling to see it happen.
As I said, the apex of my professional career is an organization that has been many years established to be able to change that identity in a positive way and in a way that has been very successful in my mind. It’s very fulfilling. Hopefully, my team feels the same. They always say that they are part of this legacy now and I’m very excited to make them feel that way as well that they see that pride and they get excited about the rebrand.
What could be a better endorsement than having your people say they are part of the legacy, especially when you think back to those early days of the challenge in front of you? What a powerful story to be able to tell and a wonderful feeling to know that your peers and folks within the organization have that sense of being a part of the legacy.
Especially considering the import that you and others, particularly in the credit union space, put on stewardship of legacy to hear people start to say they are a part of that legacy now and into the future. That’s a fantastic endorsement of the team and the work you all put in. I appreciate it. Anything else that you want to leave us with is you think about other peers and folks reading this that you want them to know as they think about this process anything you want to leave us with?
To reinforce what I have said in our conversation, if you are going to do a rebrand, make sure you go all in and understand what that means. That means involving people in the early onset. Finding a good partner to help you with those things that you might not know and that can guide you because they are looking out for your best interests. Your success is their success as well and that’s very important.
Also, understanding that this is going to be a process and can’t be something like, “We did it. We check the box.” No. From then on, you have to make it live. You have to water that seed. You have to keep on having to grow and maintain it and have it live. That’s crucial because if you are not willing to do all of that, then I can tell you now that it’s not going to be a successful process. It’s going to be a hard and very challenging process. Coming in with that mentality is very important because then you can get the people behind you on it and you can work together to make sure that you are successful. Go all in. Don’t do it halfway and make sure that you are involved with people.
Thank you. This has been fantastic and I appreciate you spending the time to share your story with us. It’s a wonderful one and a lot of great lessons for others.
Thank you. I appreciate the time.