May 29, 2007
Brand Naming: Are Bank Names Getting Blander?
According to the International Herald Tribune, big banks are trading up to brand names that reflect a global rather than regional reach to appeal to well-heeled customers who might do their banking in a number of countries.
Thus, Spanish Banco Santander Hispano recently changed its name to Santander and is doing away with the names of the banks it acquires.
HSBC and Citigroup have followed the suit. The danger, according to one exec, is creating "not a global >brand but a global bland" as bank brand naming gets blander and more encompassing.
The problem, according to one blogger, is that "good bank brands make bad bank trademarks."
Bank brand naming is getting all the more confusing, as banks expand their reach, often treading on local company names as they do so.
- According to the authors, "once-sleepy, small-town banks suddenly emerging as protagonists in national or even global trademark wars."
- Who, for instance, is the real "First National Bank" or who can claim rights to the name "Savings Bank"?
- Are these generic and descriptive or are they trademarkable?
Bankers also get in trouble for snapping up regional names: as in Winchester Federal Savings Bank vs. Winchester Bank, Inc.
Of course, as bank names get more wishy-washy, the names for bank robbers seem to be getting more panache.
The FBI now seems to be giving names to some of its more flamboyant targets: next time you are making a deposit at your local bank watch out for The Paparazzi bandit and the Panama Hat bandit.
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