Tuesday, March 12, 2019 – Following a merger or acquisition, deciding on a name is priority #1. Do you keep the larger company’s name? What if the smaller company has better brand equity? Do you merge names or just scrap the whole thing and start all over again? These are but some of the thorny decisions facing BB&T and SunTrust following the announcement of their merger in early February. In American Banker magazine’s “Name game: Rebranding BB&T-SunTrust fraught with risk” we see how determining a name has long been a complicated and sometimes daunting endeavor. But with branding and naming experts onboard, the magazine helps to begin demystifying the process.
If both brands have baggage with their existing names, some may decide to take on a new name, but that’s not necessarily an easy out. Adrenaline’s Chief Experience Officer Gina Bleedorn says, “The biggest challenge is simply in the amount of registered brands that exist today and finding one that is available.” Discovering a real word that means something can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. It can be done, but it’s not necessarily expedient to do so. That’s why so many brands go for an invented name – combing real words into a new incarnation. Gina warns that brands should be careful there, too, because of the host of made up names common to the pharmaceutical industry.
While there is a risk associated with a new name – like losing existing goodwill and consumer connections for either brand – Bleedorn says, “This is an opportunity for a blank slate, to establish new connections, new relationships and potentially shed any negative baggage.” Strategically choosing this new brand name is vital and can convey distinct advantages. Unshackled by negative associations, the new brand name can represent what the newly merged brand aspires to. In banking, many of the products and services are similar. That’s why naming is so critical. It’s one of the only differentiators for brands and the way that it connects their past with their future.
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