Freedom Bank has been granted a registered trademark on the term Guest Plaza®, the name of its unique retail banking delivery model. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the bank registered trademark status on August 22, 2017 and the bank was officially notified last week of the registration number (Reg. No. 5,271,042).

The registration establishes the bank’s legal ownership of the Guest Plaza® name and it demonstrates Freedom Bank has established a distinct identity in the marketplace and that its claim to the term has been established through consistent and long term use. The bank will discontinue the use of the “™” symbol for the term and will replace it with the “®” symbol on all marketing materials, signage and electronic use.

“We’ve got the circle ‘R’ now, and that’s a really valuable piece of intellectual property for our young company as we continue to build our brand,” said Kurt Knutson, the bank’s founder and CEO. “The Guest Plaza® is a warm and welcoming experience in an industry that had become cold, stale and “me too” in its offerings. It sounds simple – customer empathy, but in the banking world it had become completely misunderstood. The future of banking belongs to customer-centric service, comfortable, well designed, welcoming retail environments – with a staff that understands their mission of going the extra mile for the people they serve. We started with a blank page and zero-base engineered the entire customer experience – from our customers’ point of view,” said Knutson.

Freedom Bank’s Guest Plaza® features comfortable areas to relax, meet with friends or catch up on reading with a wide cross-section of consumer magazines and a library of financial reference publications. The seating ranges from isolated lounge chairs to café style clusters for casual coffee and conversations. Free Wi-Fi and a guest computer (if you didn’t bring your own) allows guests to check up on email or do some research. The Guest Plaza® has been so well received that the bank changed when it opened (7:30am Monday through Friday) to meet the customers’ desire for their Starbucks® coffee on their way to work. The bank also changed to be open on traditional “bank” holidays, giving employees the option to take the day off or use that day as a floating holiday for their own use. “The Guest Plaza® is an important part of our customers’ daily routine – we want to make it the highlight of their day” added Knutson.

Knutson went on to state, “A primary concern lies in the competitor who decorates instead of designs, who takes the shortest route by replicating rather than fabricating an experience to meet their customers’ desires. In doing so, they tarnish the work of those who put the time and effort into being genuine and authentic. We take the protection of our intellectual property serious and protect our proprietary processes, design and technologies. The trademark is an element of that protection.”

Another important element to the Guest Plaza® is that there are no lines at Freedom Bank. You are greeted by a smiling concierge and you have multiple options to conduct your business without waiting in a line. “The term ‘lobby’ had to be changed in our retail delivery model – there is so much tradition of waiting in a lobby – a negative tradition from a customer’s perspective. Our customers love the Guest Plaza®!” said Knutson.

Knutson has 34 years of banking experience and 31 years in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Knutson led a group of local investors in the 2006 establishment of Overland Park-based Freedom Bank, where he is Chairman and CEO. Freedom Bank opened into strong headwinds and has performed well throughout an extremely difficult time period for the banking industry. There have been 526 bank failures since Freedom Bank opened its doors in June of 2006. The bank focuses on its community and banking privately-held businesses throughout metropolitan Kansas City. As of August 31, 2017, the bank’s total assets were $175 million.

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