MADISON, Wis. (9/22/10)--Bancography’s 2010 Brand Value Index (BBVI) confirms that the economic downturn has affected financial institution brands in much the same way that it has impacted the overall economy. The company, in releasing its list of best U.S. credit union brands, noted that credit unions fared well. Bancography, based in Birmingham, Ala., provides consulting services, software tools and marketing research to financial institutions to support their branch, product and brand positioning strategies. “The 2010 BBVI reflects the fluid financial services landscape as providers continue to confront the aftermath of the recession,” said John Mathes, Bancography director of brand strategy. “Credit unions that pay homage to the pillars of sound brand strategy using clear differentiation and consistency of message reap the benefit at their competitors’ expense. It is abundantly clear that in the more stable geographic sections of the country, credit union brands were able to stay on point with their members by not dialing back effective dialogue and service,” Mathes said. Texas, a state that has weathered the recession better than almost all others, dominates the rankings of the strongest brands, while only a few institutions from the Southeast and West Coast regions reached the list. Among the U.S.’s largest credit unions (assets more than $1 billion), Austin (Texas) Telco CU boasts the most powerful brand, followed by EECU, Fort Worth, Texas, and Chevron FCU, Oakland, Calif. Three Texas institutions lead the rankings of credit unions with assets less than $1 billion: InTouch CU, Plano; Navy Army FCU, Corpus Christi; and First Community CU of Houston, along with 2009’s top-ranked White Sands FCU, Las Cruces, N.M. In the large credit union asset tier, only six of 2009’s top 25 retained their top-25 status in 2010. This shows a noticeable difference from 2009’s index, where 14 institutions repeated their top-25 performance and reflects the volatility in both the industry and the broader economy, Bancography said. In the large credit union tier, only Chevron and JSC FCU, Houston, return to the top 10; while 2009’s top ranked Police and Fire FCU, Philadelphia, placed 11th in 2010. Six Texas-based credit unions, four Wisconsin-based institutions and three Pennsylvania organizations combine to occupy more than half of the top 25 slots. Notably, these three states have also remained near immune to bank failures over the past three years, Bancography said. Twelve institutions returned to the top 25 in the $100 million to $1 billion asset category, including Navy Army; White Sands; Complex Community FCU, Odessa, Texas; Golden Plains CU, Garden City, Kan.; and Red Crown FCU, Tulsa, Okla. Newcomers to the list include Gwinnett FCU, Lawrenceville, Ga.; Mennonite Financial FCU, Lancaster, Pa.; AmeriCU, Rome, N.Y; Idaho Central CU, Pocatello, Idaho; and University First FCU, Salt Lake City, Utah. All but Gwinnett represented areas of the country that have survived the financial crisis relatively unscathed, Bancography said. Despite its sizable population base, no Florida-based credit union reached the top 25 in either tier, confirming the degree to which the recession has impacted that state’s financial institutions, Bancography said. Bancography’s BBVI provides a quantitative ranking of the brand strength of all U.S. banks, thrifts and credit unions. The index ranks financial institution brands by the premium the institutions’ brands add to their underlying tangible value. In calculating brand value, Bancography quantifies the proportion of each institution’s long-term value that is attributable to the intangible factors that constitute an institution’s brand. These factors include the institution’s reputation, service quality, image and market awareness. The brand value index identifies institutions that produce financial results beyond what their capital base, market conditions and competitive environments would predict. The calculations reward institutions that display consistently strong earnings and a reasonable cost of funds. Among more than 7,000 credit unions and 8,000 banks, the top performing institutions share consistent earnings and the low cost of funds that is inherent in strong financial brands.