Rebranding for a New Era of Banking

A business’s “brand” takes on many forms, often including the architectural design of new buildings – particularly prototypical free-standing structures visible to passing customers and potential clients alike. Tidemark Federal Credit Union is currently well into a complete rebranding of their business and, now, is expanding into new markets. To assist in their expansion efforts, the credit union engaged architects/engineers Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc. (DBF), to formulate the design of their new prototype, and with Bunting Construction Corporation to provide construction management services.

Since 1959, Tidemark FCU has been serving Delaware families and businesses with a brand of banking both community-minded and traditional in approach. Headquartered in Seaford, Delaware, the credit union has been a community staple since starting with eight members and $40 on deposit. Now, after the recent opening of branches in Selbyville and Long Neck, Tidemark FCU can be found at six Sussex County locations.

The financial industry today is changing – dynamically so – and Tidemark FCU is embracing that change by shaping a new brand of credit union banking that is technologically savvy, welcoming to all, and focused on the needs of its members.

With a desire to be at the forefront of the credit union industry, current Tidemark FCU leadership is driving this rebranding effort. Pamela Fleuette, President and CEO, and an active Board of Directors chaired by John Lewis, are ushering in changes that, at first glance, might seem exceptionally bold. Upon further review, however, the changes are quite logical. It all started with a desire to change the credit union’s logo and name from the former Sussex County Federal Credit Union; essentially their image.

“It wasn’t a shift in focus or a change of direction,” recalls Fleuette. “It was a sign of growth as we expanded our services in additional counties.”

From that point, Tidemark FCU began to reimagine the banking experience itself – within both their retail and commercial offerings. A number of ideas emerged:
• A more engaged customer approach with the introduction of “banking pods”;
• A more relaxed lobby experience with comfortable seating, natural light and easy connectivity with personal technology;
• Two separate customer-available executive conference rooms;
• Secured ATM access during and after business hours.

“We wanted our new branches to have a modern design, with a focus on service and technology,” Lewis stated with regard to the ideas that emerged.

DBF worked with Tidemark FCU leadership to see how their creative banking approach might be translated into architecture that would be equally innovative and striking, particularly for the resort area market where the two new branches are currently located.

Architect and President of DBF, Michael Wigley, AIA, LEED AP, noted, “Pam Fleuette presented a compelling Tidemark FCU story and brand identification. They were clear, passionately so, on the credit union’s new image and what they hoped for their members and staff. It was exciting to be a part of their planning process and to assist in creating a new prototype: one that functions well, and one that is easily identifiable and unique to Tidemark.”

The new Tidemark FCU prototype comprises about 2,500 square feet and will consist of four universal banking pod-stations situated among lounge-type seating in the lobby. Equally accessible will be a digital informational kiosk, a bistro-style transaction table and the executive conference rooms. Two ATM stations are also immediately available, as is the customary personal care Tidemark is noted for.

Gone from the exterior are the imposing brick walls typical of traditional banks; replaced instead with glass and an abundance of natural light to the lobby within. High ceilings add to the sense of openness. The Tidemark logo is prominently engaged as part of the architecture, and the credit union’s new branding colors are used in liberal doses both inside and out. DBF designed and engineered the site, incorporating an independent ATM/night drop lane and a circular parking arrangement unique to the prototype’s design. The prototype design can furthermore be “flipped” and reoriented for a variety of site locations, whether an infill interior lot or prominent corner location.

Construction took approximately eight months for each location. Coleman Bunting, president of Bunting Construction Corporation noted, “We really enjoyed working with representatives of the credit union and architect in the design build process. We believe we all achieved our goals.”

Tidemark Federal Credit Union continues to seek opportunities to better serve their members as new locations are currently being explored as well as expanded banking services.

Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., is a full-service architectural, engineering, planning and surveying firm with offices in Salisbury and Easton, Maryland, and in Milford, Delaware. For additional information about DBF, visit