One Very Clear Branding Opportunity for Banks

By John Oxford

The similarity of bank names and their brands is something we have riffed about for a long time. In no other industry are there so many organizations that have such similar products by regulatory default yet appear to not even attempt to create a true brand name.

We had high hopes that maybe the financial services industry would take notice and really consider the impact that sharing a common name or word with another bank has on consumers, SEO and just plain old marketplace confusion. However, the data does not lie. We have failed to influence this thinking and banks are actually going the other way.

Even as banking consolidation continues for various reasons, the industry has actually seen an increase in bank names being the same in sharing a word or name. The interesting part is that for all the bank marketers that claim differentiation, only 761 of approximately 5,000 banks in the United States have a unique brand name. If you are in the 761, congratulations! You at least have the start of a true brand that can stand out in many ways.

Now if you are in the 80+ percent of banks out there, now is your moment, your time to shine. You can set yourself apart by coming up with a different name. And the research is easy and free on the FDIC’s website. Examples: There are 66 banks with Texas in the name, proving that everything really is bigger in Texas, but we also realize that we should not mess with them either so you do you, Texas banks.

There are 83 banks with “valley” in the name, 183 with “citizens,” a whopping 776 banks with the word “first” and a double whopper of 878 banks with the word “state” in their name. Naming a bank is definitely a state of mind and that state of mind is being the same as everyone else.

If you are interested in hearing more about this and an incredible branding opportunity that more than 80 percent of the banking industry has, listen to this week’s Marketing Money Podcast with Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency and me.

John Oxford, director of marketing at Renasant Bank, and Josh Mabus, president of the Mabus Agency, are co-hosts of the Marketing Money Podcast.

Photo by Karen Martin