Sunday, January 21, 2024

SECU: Consider This: Chapter 3 - The Kleenex Dilemma?  SECU is different!

The Kleenex Dilemma? You might ask: "What is the (t)issue?

We took a look in Chapter 2 [link] at the questions of whether a bank and credit union are different, whether the idea of a "non-profit bank" is a logical non sequitur, and whether or not there are truly uniquely different things, people, and ideas in the world. Believe most would agree that there is very strong evidence that the answer is a resounding "Yes" to each of those questions.

So why don't most SECU members and many SECU employees realize that SECU is a credit union and that a credit union is entirely different from a bank in terms of law, legal structure, tax status, membership limits, and business purpose? Why? Ready for this? Because the word "bank" is the grammatical "industry standard"! What do you mean by that? 

Since you asked (you did ask, didn't you?), what is going on with the word "bank" has a linguistic name (or "marketing" name if you prefer!); it's called "genericide" (Now don't panic, we're not wading into Middle East politics, that's an argument over "genocide" not genericide, so relax!). 

Genericide is what occurs when a brand name for a specific product or business becomes the general ("generic") name for the entire product/business category. The long-time example is the paper tissue product category. Kleenex was the first "brand" in the category, but over time everybody began to refer to all paper tissues as "kleenexes". Competitors could call their paper tissue products whatever their marketeers came up with, but the public would - despite the inane "We Are's" and SuperBowl ads - still ask for a box of kleenexes. Other examples of brand names which have taken on a generic meaning are: Aspirin, Thermos, Escalator, Plexiglas, and Rollerblade

More modern examples  are "Google" which has morphed into a generic name for an internet search - "hold on, let me "google" that". And, "I-phone" too has come close to dominating the "cellphone" category and no telling where we are headed with "Swiftie". 

Okay, okay, but what is "The Kleenex Dilemma" for SECU as a credit union? Like it or not, try as you might, when an SECU member is asked: "Where do you "bank"?, the member will invaribly say "At the credit union!"  See the problem? The word "bank" owns the financial institution category in the mind of the public - and that probably is not going to change any time soon.

So,what has SECU done about the kleenex problem? Well - prior to the last two years - the SECU Board, the SECU staff, and a large group of "We get it" SECU members set out on a mission to demonstrate to all of North Carolina that the Credit Union was not a bank - that SECU was in fact uniquely different by law, legal structure, tax status, membership limits, and business purpose.

😎 The Mission: To prove that SECU was truly a uniquely different animal than a bank - and perhaps even a unicorn!


... it was called the "The Esse Quam Videri Mission"... stay tuned.