I don’t know much about Washington Mutual. There’s a new branch a mile or so from my home but I’m quite satisfied with my current bank thank you. However, I have noticed that in their radio and television ad campaign they refer to themselves as WaMu. Something about WaMu sets me on edge. WaMu doesn’t sound friendly like PhiMu (the fraternity for men in the musical professions founded October 6, 1898 at the New England Conservatory of Music). WaMu sounds like a baby crying in a dairy and we all know it’s no use crying over spilt milk.
It appears that Washington Mutual wants to be the “cool” bank. I don’t have too much of a problem for their “Free Checking” campaign – except when they say they’ll overlook one bounced check or overdraft per year (whoopdie dooo). But WaMu just sounds stupid (and kids we all know stupid isn’t a nice word).
I can understand wanting to shorten your name. It's easier to order takeout for Walter K than Koschnitzke. Imagine we are sitting around a table brainstorming strategy at Washington Mutual World Headquarters. Someone says “Out names too long and old fashioned. We need to shorten it.”
“How about WAM?”
“No… too 80’s. Wasn’t that the band with George Michael in it?”
“There’s a kid’s cable network with the same name. Keep thinking.”
“Won’t work. People will think we’re a dog laundry or pet groomer.”
“Far out man! Kind of cosmic, so 70’s so today.”
Washington Mutual seems to like strange names. Take their Occasio™ branches. According to the bank's website, occasio is Latin for "favorable opportunity." Maybe, but my first thought was "occasional branches" only open part-time.
Seems to me Washington Mutual could stick with their name, deliver an exceptional customer experience and be ahead of the game. But based on some of the customer commentary found on the web, there might be a few things that need some work.