SF Fire Credit Union

Honoring a legacy of service. Boldly moving into the future.

In 1951, SF Fire Credit Union was founded by firefighters, for firefighters. After an expansion of membership eligibility to the broader community, SF Fire Credit Union established a reputation among locals for their exceptional service.

However, the message that the credit union had extended its charter of service from the firehouse to every house was not immediately clear. Additionally, SF Fire had attempted an unsuccessful move towards digital that left members feeling frustrated with their online relationship with the credit union.

On average, members were already engaging with the digital channel 60 times more than a physical branch and 40 times more often than with the SF Fire contact center. Translating the credit union’s storied high-touch service and unique values to the digital channel was crucial.

At Extractable, we specialize in aiding financial services institutions, who are increasingly aware that their relationship with customers today begins and ends in the digital channel. SF Fire, a credit union with local advantage, was now competing on a wide-open virtual field, in which any player can compete for any member.

“The world of financial services has evolved drastically over the past decade and our brand needed to adapt to give members the experience they deserve.”
Kathy Duvall, CEO, San Francisco Fire Credit Union

Extractable worked with the SF Fire Credit Union Board of Directors and senior leadership to co-create a vision for the future. It was clear from SF Fire’s initial attempt at a digital initiative that the previous iteration did not dig deep enough to provide the necessary tools to empower members to achieve their financial goals.

We established a business case in which we would undertake top down digital transformation —
a shift that is oftentimes less about digital and more about changing the organization from the inside out. In order to delight members and remain competitive, Extractable had to accelerate both a digital and cultural transformation.

We began with a ground-up approach to understanding the culture, stakeholders, and leaders at SF Fire Credit Union. From branch employees to VPs, we conducted interviews across the service roadmap to entrench ourselves in the processes and culture that shape the credit union.

Extractable then led a series of visioning workshops to develop the goals, vision, and values of the Credit Union. In expanding upon them, we established the strategic pillars that would act as our north star throughout the project.

In this phase we garnered insights from the top down; and developed a business case and ROI model, defined and prioritized key performance indicators, detailed a digital strategy to improve user experience via research and analysis, developed a digital growth strategy and technology roadmap.

After an internal discovery phase, we conducted thorough member research. After all, to make good on the brand promise we established of “putting members first,” we had to let them drive the digital experience.

We interviewed members, firefighters, and community leaders to inform our action plan. The Extractable user experience team analyzed member behavior qualitatively, through user interviews and comparative market research. In parallel, the analytics teams gathered quantitative metrics about customer behavior with dynamic tracking; leveraging our years of specialization in financial services data analytics for comparative analysis.

We accumulated a mountain of data, and zeroed in on shining opportunities that were previously unknown. Market opportunity areas, unique member challenges, service design blockers — all rose to the surface.

The information gleaned informed our personas, journeys, service roadmaps —and ultimately a new user experience and updated brand identity.

The SF Fire brand has a high level of affinity, and modernizing the look and feel of the credit union was a special undertaking. The creative team at Extractable took particular care to honor the storied SF Fire tradition, brand history, tone, and personality.

This refreshed brand had to shine through every touchpoint, from ATM screens to printed collateral. The brand identity, messaging, and visual design also had to infuse a sense of connection and personalization; effectively communicating that “Just as firefighters protect the physical security of the community, SF Fire Credit Union protects its financial security.”

Originally created by a former San Francisco firefighter and member of the SF Fire Credit Union’s leadership team, the original logo was inspired by fire helmets and fire engine pump impellers, drawing a parallel between the tools that keep firefighters physically safe and effective and the credit union that works to do the same for their money.

The logo has been updated to propel the CU into the digital future, while honoring its heritage. The new logo was Inspired by the hand-drawn pinstripe lettering on the San Francisco fire trucks, and other Bay Area mainstays —connecting the credit union, the firefighters, and the communities they serve.

“Our new brand honors our 68-year tradition of service and celebrates our vibrant community, while preparing our credit union for the future; our new look celebrates the history that inspires us and gives us the flexibility we need to make our brand accessible and inspiring.”
Kathy Duvall, CEO, San Francisco Fire Credit Union

We are honored to have worked with the dynamic team at SF Fire Credit Union, and privileged to have played a role in co-creating a digital vision of their future.

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