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Changing Bank Name

Q:Our client is a community bank with the city name in the bank's name. They will be buying several banks in neighboring markets (different cities). What do you do with the names of banks you buy? (1) change to buying bank's name, (2) change to generic name, (3) keep original name. I am looking for an established methodology for measuring the customer equity associated with the current names, and estimating the impact of changing the names. Any ideas?

A:Each of your options has been used. Another option is to keep the original name and use the purchased bank's name as the branch name: Oak City Bank buys Maple City bank, and calls that facility: Oak City Bank, Maple City branch. This method has worked very well for the large banks who have been gobbling up community banks over the last several years. I worked in banking for a while, and was part of a bank that was an active acquirer, and was also bought. There really never was an issue over changed names, instead, it was clearly communicating and proving to customers that products, employees, and customer service would remain the same. If you gained the customers' trust through these 3 avenues, a name change would have little effect. I worked 7 years, a good deal of which was in the marketing department as a cd/ira product manager with a large southeastern regional bank holding company who was, and is an aggressive acquirer, and kept us hopping with conversions. I agree with Raman in that, I don't think the majority of people give a hoot about what combination of letters winds up being plastered on the side of the building, and ultimately printed on their checks, credit/debit cards, etc. Consistency in names may actually do more for customers who DON'T live in the market being acquired, and don't really know the area well, but DO frequently travel to and/or do business in that market. As Raman said, the real concern is more a combination of continued/improved service, product availability, and "Will 'Sally' still be the one I get to talk to about my banking business?". Hey, just my two cents worth. If I was really interested in all that bureaucracy, I'd probably still be there instead of trying to do my own thing in the helicopter business!

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