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An Approach to Naming/ Bank Example

Developing a new bank name can be challenging. Sometimes internal stakeholders have biases or emotional attachments to certain names with no research or rationale to justify their preferences. Often, office politics and egos rear their ugly heads in generating and deciding on naming options. To make matters worse, there are agencies out there that have no validated naming process in place and thus they develop names in a vacuum.

At the agency where I work, we take a different approach. We have developed our own naming process that has proved to be effective, robust and successful. It is a process based on market research, taking the time to thoroughly understand all constituents, communities and the competitive landscape. It is a successful process that can be repeated and adapted to suit any individual situation. The real advantage of this approach is that it not only saves money but also saves time. We hit the ground running and develop the new brand vision, promise and positioning based on values. We then immediately incorporate those values into our development of the new brand identity.

As an example of our process in action, we were recently approached by two banks shortly before they were to merge into a larger entity. Our charge was to name and brand the institution. Of particular concern was that one of the banks had recently gone through a name change itself, and so it was reluctant to change its name again so quickly. We needed to determine the efficacy of keeping one bank’s name or developing an entirely new brand altogether.

Our first course of action was to interview stakeholders from both banks, so as to truly understand each one’s heritage, corporate culture and values. We then visited the communities within their collective footprint, and conducted focus groups of both customers and noncustomers who lived within the combined footprint of the new banking entity. We assessed their current feelings about the area and tested their brand awareness of banks within that area. Our process included an evaluation of the features and characteristics that make that area unique, identifying any nuances and specific needs of the communities’ residents.

We also tested various “brand stories” that represented potential brand positions for the new bank, to determine those attributes that resonated most strongly with respondents. Each brand story focused on a different aspect of how a local bank can benefit its customers and make an impact on the communities it serves. Ultimately, it was the highest-ranked brand story that we used to vet the final list of names. All proposed names were evaluated solely on how they related to the brand story.

After that, gaining consensus was relatively easy. Essentially, we had changed the conversation from whether or not we should keep one bank’s name after the merger, to determining an appropriate name that relates directly to a clearly articulated shared vision of the future for the new bank. Thus we were to eliminate any premerger biases and emotional attachments to any particular name(s).

Steven Salloway

Steve is a seasoned Brand Strategist and serves a strategic advisory role for many existing agency accounts at Davis Advertising, located in Worcester, MA. From market research, to brand positioning and account planning, he’s recently completed naming projects for Cornerstone Bank and Coastal Heritage Bank, brand positioning projects for Service Credit Union, the Yesway Convenience Store chain and the Wayback Burgers franchise.

Over the past 13 years at Davis Advertising, he was the Account Supervisor on the Charter Communications account – a Fortune 500 company, and has worked on a wide array of brands from the higher education, franchising, business-to-business, telecommunications, healthcare, financial and retail categories.

Having worked at RDW Group and Donovan Group Integrated Marketing, he has an extensive background in marketing, branding, advertising, public relations, and media. While there he managed such notable accounts as Fallon Community Health Plan, UMass Memorial Healthcare, HealthAlliance, HarborONE Bank (formerly Brockton Credit Union/HarborONE Credit Union), Markem, Stratus Computer and Simplex Manufacturing.

Steve holds a Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration in Advertising/PR from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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