Home / Business / Hard sell ahead for BB & T-SunTrust as "Truist" lands with a lump

Hard sell ahead for BB & T-SunTrust as "Truist" lands with a lump

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

Truist was far from an immediate hit on social media, with many who initially fooled it as a font. However, while BB & T and SunTrust Banks may have to take some flakes in the short term, perhaps the initial tweet storm does not matter at all, several brand experts told American Banker shortly after the name was presented on Wednesday.

The name is short and unique and pays homage to both companies without favoring one over the other. It also plays on two words with positive connotations – trust and truth – that all banks would be happy to associate with their brand. What finally makes the difference is how the two companies sell the name forward, the experts said.

"I think it will not beat them well, and then it will grow on people," says Gina Bleedorn, head of the Atlanta marketing agency Adrenaline. "SunTrust and BB & T will have to put the right brand history behind it, and they can make it happen properly."

"In a name change, especially one with this kind of visibility, it is a very difficult task because it is incredibly subjective and the landscape is just so crowded, "she continued." They are trying to cut out the least resistance here, and I think they ultimately strike what is important. "

Both banks have stressed that their Business, the largest bank combination of over a decade, would be a merger of equals, and keeping a name over the other would undermine that message. CEOs at each bank tried to come up with a combination of both names but quickly abandoned this approach.

Speaking recently at a financial conference in New York, SunTrust said CEO Bill Rogers, "I can tell you all the combinations of SunTrust and BB & T you can imagine."

In the end, they decided to take a word that they both had in common, rely on and insert an "i" in the middle of it.

"The name is a connotation as opposed to a description," says Roger Beahm, marketing professor at Wake Forest University and founding CEO of the Wake Forest Center for Retail Innovation. "It's own because it's unique. But there is a training that needs to be done with some brand that is a connotation. That's where the construction of the brand's equity comes into play."

The two banks will have their work cut out for them during the months to come. They will have to tell a compelling story behind the new brand, and they will need to back up the positive connotations with solid products and services, according to the experts. They will also need to educate consumers in advance about the spelling and statement.

Some branding experts who talked to American Banks admitted that they were not immediately crazy about the name, but they also stressed that Truist will ultimately be what the bankers are doing about it.

Most of the new name is that companies will be able to define it for themselves, says Steven Reider, marketing manager and branch advisor Bancography. Saucony is also a ready word for an athletic shoe and clothing dealer, and one that is often mispronounced, but runners still know what it is and what it stands for.

"If you invest it in a proposal that is so superior, whether it's product or service or pricing, then the name blends into the background and becomes a word that just rolls off the tongue," he said.

Banks must also come before some associations with either tryst or truant, two words with negative connotations, says Douglas Strickler, CEO of advertising company HOT ° INC.

"When you use words like truth or trust then you absolutely have to deliver it in every way," he says.

They should also be aware of addressing challenges with the pronunciation of the new name, said adrenaline Bleedorn.

"I don't think it's an insurmountable challenge, but it's one they have to deal with in their communication, and it's one they can probably have fun dealing with in audio media," she says.

Companies employed Interbrand, a New York unit in the Omnicom Group, for research, brand positioning and naming services. They also acquired expertise from employees from both the banks' marketing, digital and customer experience and consulted customers in the process.

Leaders have not yet revealed the new logo, typography or visual identity that will be associated with the new brand.

BB & T shareholders must approve the new name because it will change the company's articles of association. BB & T has not set a date for its meeting as it was necessary, among other things, to determine the name that would have to be on the vote. SunTrust shareholders will not vote on the name change.

If it is assumed that the merger agreement will receive the blessing of regulators, BB & T and SunTrust are expecting it to close late in the third quarter or the beginning of the fourth quarter. The combined bank would have about $ 440 billion in assets, making it the sixth largest bank in the United States and will be based in Charlotte, NC

Chris Marinac, research director at Janney Montgomery Scott, compared the new name Synovus, a mash-up of synergy and novus (latin for new) that originally drew some scrapes when it debuted in 1989.

"It was a fish out of water for maybe the first year, but now it is perfect reason today", he said the regional banking company Columbus, Ga.

Marinac also commended BB & T and SunTrust managers to take time off the brand shift.

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

But brand and market experts were not so quick to write it off. No matter what Twitter users can say now, Truist is still in many ways an empty slate for the two companies.

"One word stands for nothing until you build a positive or negative idea to follow it," Beahm said.

Paul Davis contributed to this article.

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