Hilbert area inhabitants might have noticed a change in credit union signage this spring.
Having undergone a three-way, collaborative merger, CitizensFirst, Lakeview and Best Advantage credit unions became Verve, a Credit Union, in March of this year. Within months, former Best Advantage branches in Brillion and Sherwood were sporting brand new orange and gray colors on their outdoor signs and are undergoing additional changes to the interior.
Chief Culture Officer at Verve, Tammy Williams, who formerly served as president and CEO of Best Advantage, said the name, Verve, has a very important meaning for the credit union. “Sometimes people ask me why we chose Verve for the name. That question opens the door to a great conversation about how we selected a word that embodies the passion, spirit, enthusiasm and drive we put to work on behalf of our members. Some people recognize the word verve immediately as something that was more commonly used in the 50s and others didn’t even realize it was a word but in the end they can all agree that they want to be part of an organization whose existence is based on actively improving the lives of their members and their communities.
“Our team members show verve everyday as they serve our members and communities and represent our enthusiasm and commitment to our communities,” she said. “Some people tell me Verve doesn’t sound like a typical credit union,” she explained. “I tell them, ‘Perfect.’ We’ve always felt Best Advantage offered a unique quality of service, and now we have a name that reflects our unique character.”
With investment in area businesses higher than ever and a chock-full schedule of community events, Verve has been carrying out this commitment to the Hilbert community with as much vigor as ever, and you can expect that to continue.
Think big, act small
Verve is only interested in growing if it helps the credit union give back more to its membership communities. For instance, the three-way merger allowed the credit unions to pool resources and combine experiences, leading to enhanced financial services for members and local businesses alike, as well as to increase community involvement from Fond du Lac to Neenah to Brillion.
According to Kevin J. Ralofsky, president and CEO of Verve, this stronger together mentality is what Verve is all about. “It is crucial that credit unions continue to adapt to their communities’ changing needs,” he explained. “Creating partnerships is an opportunity to grow so we can have a greater, positive impact on the individual lives that make this work possible.”
“It’s about staying relevant,” he added, explaining that the same old way of business only works for so long. “Whether it means creating a financial literacy-based youth group or improving our digital experiences, we’re always looking for new ways to be a dynamic, recognizable presence in the community. Creating a memorable, appealing brand is just one part of that.”
When asked why he or she chose to bank at a credit union, most members will cite the local, familiar service. According to Tammy Williams, your credit union teller might as well be your neighbor. “At Verve, we want to take care of your finances, but we also want to brighten your day,” she said. “There’s no reason a credit union’s brand should be cold and impersonal. It should have a face—it should be a real, straight-talking person, just like our members.”
That’s the thought process behind Merv, Verve’s quippy spokesperson, whom Hilbert residents might have heard answer member questions on the radio or seen sporting an orange tie on area billboards. Office-ready with a delightfully dry sense of humor, Merv represents what members want from credit union service: responsiveness with no frills—straight answers from someone they can relate to.
According to Mitchell Michiels, cooperative outreach specialist at Verve, Verve looks for ways to give back to the community and have fun at the same time. “As a credit union, we don’t just serve the community, we participate in it,” he explained. “When planning our involvement, we always ask ourselves, ‘is this something I would want to attend?’”
Michiels spends a good deal of his work week around town facilitating all sorts of events, from blood drives to movies in the park to craft beer tastings, all of which involve charity in some way. He also serves on the VIA, or Verve In Action team, which stops by local businesses several times per month to pay for customers’ purchases.
At the heart of this community involvement are the 7 Cooperative Principles. Established in the 1800s to guide the work of cooperatives around the world, the principles of ownership, democracy, participation, independence, education, cooperation and community are as relevant to credit unions today as ever.
“As one of the 7 Cooperative Principles,” Michiels said, “engaging the community is paramount to Verve. It’s engrained in our work as a credit union. The difference we make around town is what matters most, and this type of involvement is here to stay.”
Anyone interested in Verve can visit www.verveacu.comto learn more about credit union events, services and membership, or follow Verve on Facebook for regular updates.