Home / Business / The sale for BB & T SunTrust is tough as Truist lands with a thud

The sale for BB & T SunTrust is tough as Truist lands with a thud

Now the hard work begins for the architects of the new brand "Truist Financial".

Truist was not an instant hit on social media, and many initially mocked it as a typo. But while BB & T and SunTrust Banks need some flak in the short term, the initial Tweetstorm may not matter, several branding experts told American Bankers immediately after the name was announced Wednesday.

The name is short and unique, honoring both companies without favoring them. It also plays with two words with positive connotations – trust and true – that every banker would be happy to connect with his brand. What will ultimately make the difference will be how the two companies sell the name in the future, the experts said.

"I think it will not be good at first, and then it will grow in people," said Gina Bleedorn, Chief Experience Officer at Adrenaline's Atlanta marketing agency. "SunTrust and BB & T must have the right brand story behind them." and they can do it the right way. "

" Changing names, especially with such visibility, is a very, very difficult task because it is incredibly subjective and the landscape is just so crowded. ", she continued. They're trying to find the path of least resistance here, and I think they ultimately come up with what's important. "

Both banks have stressed that their deal is the largest banking combination in over a decade, would be an amalgamation of peers, and if one name stays above the other, it would undermine that message however, they quickly abandoned this approach.

Recently, SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said at a financial services conference in New York, "I can introduce you to every conceivable combination of SunTrust and BB & T."

Ultimately They decided to take a word that they both had in common and put an "i" in the middle.

"The name is a connotation as opposed to a description," said Roger Beahm, marketing professor at Wake Forest University and founding director of the Wake Forest Center for Innovation in Retail. "It's owning because it's unique, but there's an education, which must take place with every brand that is a connotation. This is where building brand value comes into play. "

In the coming months, the two banks will have to stop their work. They need to tell a compelling story behind the new brand and underpin that positive connotation with solid products and services, say the experts. You also need to inform consumers in advance about spelling and pronunciation.

Some branding experts who spoke with American Bankers admitted that they were not immediately crazy about the name, but also stressed that Truist will ultimately be what the bankers make of it.

The main benefit of the new name is that companies can define it themselves, said Steven Reider, president of marketing and branch planning consultant Bancography. Saucony is also a fictitious word for a sportswear and clothing retailer and one that is often mispronounced, but runners still know what it is and what it stands for.

"When you invest it in a proposition that is so superior, be it a product or a service or a pricing, the name merges with the background and becomes a word that runs down your tongue," he said ,

Banks must also distinguish themselves from associations with Tryst or Truant, two words with negative connotations, said Douglas Strickler, CEO of the advertising company HOT ° INC.

"If you use words that are true or trustworthy, then you absolutely have to deliver that in every way," he said.

You should also pay attention to tackling challenges with the pronunciation of the new name, said Bleedorn of Adrenaline.

"I do not think this is an insurmountable challenge, but you have to tackle it in your communication and it's one that you'll probably enjoy addressing in audio media," she said.

The companies commissioned Interbrand, a New York entity of the Omnicom Group, with research, brand positioning, and name services. They also built the expertise of the marketing, digital and customer experience of the banks, consulting clients.

Executives have not yet announced the new logo, typography, or visual identity associated with the new brand.

BB & T shareholders must approve the new name as it will amend the company's Articles of Association. BB & T has not set a date for its session, as it had to determine, among other things, the name that would have to be on the ballot. SunTrust shareholders will not vote on the name change.

Under the assumption that the merger agreement will receive the blessing of regulators, BB & T and SunTrust expect it to close at the end of the third quarter or early fourth quarter. The combined bank has assets of approximately $ 440 billion, making it the sixth largest bank in the United States. She will be based in Charlotte, NC.

Chris Marinac, research director for Janney Montgomery Scott, likened the new name to Synovus, a mash-up of Synergy and Novus (Latin for New), which initially rocked a bit on its debut in 1989.

"It may have been a fish without water for the first year, but now it makes perfect sense today," he said of regional bank Columbus, Georgia.

Marinac also praised the leaders of BB & T and SunTrust for their time with the brand change.

Truist was originally ridiculed in social media. The overwhelming majority of Twitter users who responded to an informal poll by American Banker responded that they hated it.

But branding and marketing experts have not written it off so quickly. Regardless of what Twitter users now say, Truist is still an empty slate for the two companies in many ways.

"One word stands for nothing until you build a positive or negative perception," said Beahm.

Paul Davis contributed to this article.

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