A forward-thinking credit union branch design helps First West achieve enviable financial performance. In June of 2014, the first of the Ratio designed Envision Financial branch concept opened in Chilliwack , BC at Garrison Crossing. With a visionary operational model, First West Credit Union’s investment into a future-focused branch network for their Envision Financial brand paid off with more new members and positive revenue results.
The new Valley First Vernon Branch is the first of a network-wide design solution by RATIO featuring open, engaging branch spaces that promote staff interaction and personal service. Although part of the 40-plus First West Credit Union family, Valley First has a strong local brand and is a vital member of the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson communities. Branch members have a powerful connection to staff and the strength of this relationship is the framework for the branch network design. Our design solution features open, engaging branch spaces that promote staff interaction and personal service. The design platform also introduces subtle aesthetic cues through materials and finishes to acknowledge regional geographic and local demographic differences.
Recently, Business in Vancouver published a story related to the changes that have occurred with BC’s Credit Unions. The dichotomy of growing membership but fewer credit union brands is interesting and presents a challenge. The trend towards mergers in the sector means there are now fewer than 40 credit union brands compared to 1996 when there were around 100. Credit Unions are about community, people and relationships. So, how do Credit Unions keep brand consistency across credit union branches and communities? How does Credit Union branch design support those brand characteristics that set it apart from competitors and deliver on the promise of community support?
Envision Financial, under the umbrella of First West Credit Union has opened the door to a new way of banking. It also introduces a fresh, cohesive design concept for the merged credit union network under First West. Their newest branch, at Garrison Crossing in Chilliwack, introduces this new member experience. During the design and planning process RATIO and the First West team re-imagined the credit union from the perspective of its true definition: a cooperative organisation of individuals for a common purpose; and as a key community stakeholder. Design decisions were made based on the client’s very successful brand drivers.