The extended cursive E, which traces back to when only Boeing employees could join the credit union, is being downplayed as the quiet financial giant with 1 million members retools its look.
The nation’s fourth-largest credit union is getting rid of the extended cursive E that has dominated its logo for some 30 years, but the rebranding won’t change the name that apparently bewilders some new Northwest residents.
BECU is modernizing its corporate look, according to the financial cooperative with 1 million members and $17 billion in assets, partly to shift emphasis from that E (which highlighted its origins as the Boeing Employees Credit Union) to the U (which now, as the marketers put it, stands for you).
The new look, sans squiggle, is being unveiled Thursday atop the company’s Tukwila headquarters. It slowly will start appearing at branches and ATMs as well as on bank cards and checks.
Like other credit unions, BECU was founded to serve a particular affinity group but has broadened its reach. Since 2002 it has been open to all Washington state residents.
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There were also practical reasons to replace the extended, cursive E with a logo that is “more modern and more relevant,” said BECU Vice President Stephen Black.
On signage, “that E took up more real estate on the height,” requiring the rest of the letters to be shorter to fit the logo in a given space, said Black. And rendering the squiggle on LED screens or other digital displays, at a sports stadium for instance, could yield something that “wasn’t really crisp and clear,” he said.
The new look, developed by Seattle design shop Phinney Bischoff, gives each letter its own box — in a brighter shade of red than the old logo — and differentiates the U with a rounded corner. Black wouldn’t say what the updated look is costing, but said the credit union is “doing it in a mindful way.”
What’s not changing is the name BECU, though the acronym has stymied some, said Black: “People would refer to us as bee-cue.”
Many local credit unions have undertaken radical rebrandings, perhaps at the cost of shedding their heritage: Group Health C.U. became Salal C.U. in 2010, School Employees C.U. became Inspirus C.U. in 2015. Upon the merging of Yakima Valley Credit Union and Catholic Credit Union, the enlarged enterprise was renamed Solarity Credit Union.
Likewise, NW Federal Credit Union, formed as Postal Workers Credit Union #8 in the 1930s, more recently became Verity Credit Union. This summer Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union saved some space by shortening its name to Seattle Credit Union. (In more debatable name changes elsewhere, Ypsilanti Area Federal Credit Union became Washtenaw Federal Credit Union, signifying to those in the know its expanded ambitions southwest of Detroit, Mich.)
But BECU, especially now that it has updated the logo, won’t be abandoning its acronym any time soon, said Black.
“We are really committed to ‘BECU’ and find a lot of pride and strength in that,” he said.