Longtime SC lender reboots brand at an inconvenient time

By John McDermott jmcdermott@postandcourier.com
Apr 17, 2020

Jason Lee could see the question coming a mile away, like a train off in the distance.

Why would he even attempt to change his company’s long-established corporate identity when the world is fixed on a viral pandemic and multi-trillion-dollar economic rescue plans.

The short answer is, he had no other option.

Clearly launching a rebrand in the middle of COVID-19 seems kind of ludicrous,” he allowed last week.

The wrinkle was that the process was too far down the line to stop in its tracks, said Lee, president of REV Federal Credit Union, which until recently had operated under the familiar Heritage Trust banner.

“Unfortunately, once you get the train moving with a rebrand, you’ve already submitted the legal paperwork to regulators, and the trademark aspects were to the point where you can’t really turn around. … We just had no choice but to rebrand at that moment,” he said

The name change was announced publicly March 30, but by then it had been in effect for a couple of weeks.

Jason Lee (copy)The switch is part of a strategic plan that Lee, the former chief executive officer of a Memphis credit union, has been working on since joining the former Heritage Trust franchise last summer. The goal is to pivot the 65-year-old nonprofit lender “in a more modern, relevant and progressive direction,” he said.

“However, the transformation is much more than just a name change,” said Lee, who is expected to become CEO when longtime leader Jim McDaniel retires. “The strategic vision will include marked improvements in member experience, branding and community outreach efforts, and internal efficiencies.”

The rebranding is the third for the 10-branch community financial institution. It opened its doors as Charleston Air Base Federal Credit Union, later shortened to CAB, in 1955 to serve civilians who worked on the installation.

It gradually grew its membership rolls within and beyond the gates off Dorchester Road. It became Heritage Trust on Feb., 1, 1986, a move that reflected an “expanding customer base,” according to a news report about the change.

The time had come to make another change in identity late 2019, after the credit union solicited market feedback from its members and other consumers.

“We asked them a series of questions how they interpreted the Heritage Trust name, the brand,” Lee said.

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