When Vibrant Credit Union changed is name from DHCU in a 2015 rebrand, the credit union changed job titles and responsibilities and introduced initiatives to put smiles on the faces of employees and members.
Changes include a retrofitted 1974 Volkswagen truck that hands out free ice cream and daily motivational moments that promote positive employee relationships.
Three years ago, Vibrant Credit Union ($653.3M, Moline, IL) changed its name and its fortune.
The Prairie State credit union had been using the acronym from its previous name, Deere Harvesters Credit Union, since its licensing agreement with Deere & Company lapsed in the early 2000s but found its legacy branding to be at the root of stagnant member growth.
“Our own members believed you had to work at or be a part of John Deere to bank with us,” says Steven Ducey, chief experience officer at Vibrant Credit Union. “That wasn’t the case.”
In 2015 the credit union rolled out a new name and took the opportunity to shift its culture as well, in essence relaunching the organization.
“We didn’t just put a new name on the place,” Ducey says. “We shifted the way we operate as a business.”
Vibrant’s member growth declined steadily between 2012 and 2015.
A Happy, Healthy Business
Although securing executive buy-in to shift an organization’s culture can be challenging, Vibrant benefited from timing. The credit union’s leadership team has turned over significantly since 2011 when Matt McCombs assumed his position as CEO, and its new leaders want to inject their own DNA into the institution. Culture is one way they influence the growth of the organization.
“If we can cultivate happy, healthy people inside and outside the workplace, then we can grow a happy, healthy business,” Ducey says. “The more our folks smile, the more our members will smile.”
The culture change at Vibrant started with the staff.
The credit union changed the title of branch manager to experience manager and adjusted responsibilities accordingly. Managers now focus on member interactions rather than transactions because interactions are what drive the member experience.
“We can transact through ATM machines, but we interact through people,” Ducey says.
As part of the rebrand, Vibrant wanted to deepen member relationships. Since 2015, Vibrant’s products per member has grown.
The credit union has also empowered experience managers to have as much fun as they want in the branch. If front-line staffers want to give every member who walks through the door a high five, that’s ok. If staff members are tired of the cold, Midwestern winter and want to throw a Hawaiian-themed party in protest, they should go for it, Ducey says.
“No one goes to a dinner party on Friday night and talks about the experience they had at the bank this week,” the experience officer says. “But why shouldn’t they?”
Creating experiences like this is a key aspect of Vibrant’s rebrand and culture shift. For example, soon after the rebrand, the credit union retrofitted a 1974 Volkswagen bus into an ice cream truck and hired a full-time brand ambassador to roll through the community and hand out free ice cream.