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Branding
It's Refreshing! Building Strength By Rebranding, Part I
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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Exploring examples of banks that retained their name and refreshed their brand to achieve genuinely local relevance

In part three of our series on brand name changes, we explored examples of modified names based on ownability. We discussed how important having a distinguishing name is for banks and credit unions, especially in an industry full of legacy labels, like “first” and “trust.” While there are compelling competitive and market-based reasons for changing brand names, what’s equally clear is that there are times to keep the name and refresh the brand to achieve the same (or more) growth. And as outlined in our on-demand webinars to community banks and credit unions, growth is imperative, especially as FIs plan for their post-pandemic futures. 

“A rebrand will not be the only change needed to stay afloat in a sea of sameness, according to the Financial Brand’s Six Warning Signs Your Financial Institution Is Overdue for a Rebrand. “But a rebrand is an effective and strategic way to position your institution for the long term.” Focusing on brand helps financial institutions foster deeper and more trusting relationships. Whether it’s a rename and rebrand – as spotlighted in our previous articles in naming series – or a refresh that updates a brand to make it more relevant, “investment in a truly differentiated brand builds equity and market share more efficiently,” finds the Financial Brand.

TIME TO REFRESH: FOR AUTHENTIC, LOCAL RELEVANCE

Describing powerful examples in her ABA Bank Marketing presentation to community banks, Gina Bleedorn, Chief Experience Officer at Adrenaline says, brands that may not be geographically exclusive can still make their mark in the market. She says, “Genuinely authentic and local relevance – probably more than anything – is what builds that idea of trust.” Even without ownable or exclusive names, with a refreshed brand and the right growth strategy, banks can gain traction with consumers. Such was the case with Hills Bank, one of the largest independent banks serving Iowa. Even without an ownable name, the bank still had a significant amount of brand equity to build on with their refreshed identity.

What’s in a (Brand) Name? Everything, Part IV - Hills Bank

Another state-based financial institution, Montana Credit Union also leveraged their local roots for their refreshed brand. With an aging demographic, the credit union needed to update and modernize their brand to appeal to younger audiences without losing the loyalty of their current membership. The CU had no plans to move outside Montana, but had gained an updated charter that reinforced a physical and service-side expansion in the state. Supporting their growth strategy, the new brand identity felt fresh and familiar at the same time – underscoring their Big Sky Country values – and reflected where the financial institution would be heading in the future.

What's in a brand name - Montana Financial Credit Union Logo

A bank with a non-ownable name, Mississippi’s Guaranty Bank was also getting growth by expanding northward into a new market. While not geographically exclusive, their refreshed brand set them up for success as they expanded into opportunity-rich Memphis. “They were traveling essentially where the people are, and we helped refresh their identity – just a little bit of a modernization and a refresh,” says Gina Bleedorn. “So, as they were designing and we were designing and building these new locations, they looked the part from a brand standpoint.” And as their new business and retail service offerings were introduced into a new market, “the brand helped position them for that growth upwards towards Memphis.”

WHAT’S IN A (BRAND) NAME? EVERYTHING, PART IV - Guaranty Bank

While a financial institution may not be geographically exclusive – as these examples demonstrate – a brand that reflects local values and provides genuinely local relevance can reestablish its place in the hearts and minds of consumers and drive growth in new markets. In our next Perspective on name rebrands, we will address even more examples of financial institutions keeping their names but refreshing their brands for success. For more about naming practices within rebrands or to speak to one of our branding experts, email us at info@adrenalineagency.com or call (678) 412-6903.


Adrenaline is a brand experience company that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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