Renovating For Member Experience

The Cooperative Trek, Day 5: TruChoice FCU turned its brand to a true Maine experience, playing up the state’s outdoorsy feel with an unconventional attitude.


Enroute from Vermont to Portland, ME, the landscape looked more wooded and beautiful as we prepared to chat with TruChoice Federal Credit Union ($80.8M) about its rebranding initiative.

Green mountainous terrain was broken up once we entered Portland, a hip coastal town where residents seem to take it easy. While most people think of Portland, OR, as the ultimate hipster town, Portland, ME, is where the Oregon town got its name and is just as earthy.

TruChoice, which is set on the outskirts of town, revels in its outdoorsy atmosphere, planting amethyst cone flowers outside the huge front windows and creating a sun-soaked patio.

Walking into the building, you’re instantly in a better mood. Pale yellow walls with red and green accents have a calming and uplifting affect. In the middle of the office, a large structure acts as a cubicle but looks nothing like the four-sided cubicles in most offices. It’s a strange spilt-milk like shape. While there are still walls to separate the employees, the space has opaque windows that can be opened for interaction. Or employees can roll their chairs to outer parts of the shape where shared desk space can be used for joint work.

The credit union redesigned its branches with colorful walls and quirky, open desk spaces, but it also revamped its website with the same bright colors. The color scheme seems to reflect the attitude of the people in town and its buildings and boats.

The physical rebranding came after TruChoice changed its tagline to ‘Bank Simply.’ During the past November, the credit union implemented a new, easier-to-use loan system. Whether members apply online or within the branch, they can be approved within five minutes and walk out with a loan in 15 minutes. And credit union employees have been known to drive to member’s houses or work places to pick up checks if the member can’t get to the branch before it closes.

As the sun went down and the weather cooled, a thick fog blanketed the harbor. It became hard to see even 10 feet in front of you. We shivered walking back to the car, conjuring up thoughts of Stephen King’s “The Mist.”

Portland has a nice juxtaposition of athletic-looking older individuals and a young counterculture that takes style tips from both hipsters and Goths. The town seems a bit unconventional, which is exactly what TruChoice accomplished with its new look.

Author Bailey Reutzel and multimedia producer Melissa Forsyth hit the road in August for a weeklong Cooperative Trek. They traveled from Washington, DC, to Portland, ME, stopping along the way at 11 credit unions and learning first-hand about successful strategies to share with our readers. Follow the 2012 Cooperative Trek on as we release stories from the road throughout the fall of 2012.


Aug. 21, 2012



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