We’ve discussed the importance of brand vs branding, why building mind share is crucial and what it’s like to develop a unique brand identity in the FI space. However, we haven’t discussed the hardest component of every brand – a brand name.
A well-chosen brand name can help establish brand recognition, create positive associations and ultimately lead to increased sales and customer loyalty. A brand name is a way to create a first impression and is what sticks in the minds of customers when building perception.
What is the Silent Risk of a Shared Bank or Credit Union Name?
There are clear challenges when an organization decides to keep or change its name. We’ve supported clients keeping their name while for others we’ve recommended something new. With the recent failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Signature Bank, and the financial trouble of others, banks that share a similarity in naming suddenly had issues of their own.
“After New York’s Signature Bank failed, a handful of other financial institutions sprung into action to disassociate themselves from that bank. Four are also named Signature Bank, and the other is Signature Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, Va.”
“Several banks with “Republic” in their name also took action, lest they be mistaken for First Republic.” As reported in the article Other ‘Signature’ and ‘Republic’ Banks Tackle Marketing Crisis by The Financial Brand.
Dozens of banks were forced through a flurry of communication to put out PR fires and reassure investors, customers, and members alike that things were okay. When another brand’s name suddenly becomes your burden, that might be a wake-up call that having a shared name, even if you don’t compete in the same geography, is not a good idea.
Instead of being able to capitalize on a brand’s strength during a time of opportunity, they had to spend their valuable, limited time and resources playing defense on a problem that wasn’t even theirs. This may have made amends to most nervous customers/members but may still have resulted in account closures and withdrawals that may not have normally taken place.
Building a Better Brand Name
Brand naming is a challenge and requires commitment, but the result is something completely unique and meaningful to you, your team and your customers/members. It is part of the overall package to get away from normalcy and be something different.
Understand Your Target Audience
The first step in brand naming is to understand your target audience. Whom are you trying to reach? For example, a luxury fashion brand may choose a name that conveys sophistication and exclusivity, while a tech startup may choose a name that suggests innovation and forward-thinking.
Consider Your Brand Positioning
Your brand name should align with your brand positioning. What do you want your brand to stand for? Your brand name should communicate your brand's unique selling proposition and help differentiate it from competitors. It should be real and tangible. For example, the name "Patagonia" suggests ruggedness and adventure, aligning with the brand's focus on outdoor apparel and sustainability.
Keep It Simple and Memorable
A good brand name should be simple, memorable and easy to pronounce. A complex or hard-to-pronounce name can be difficult to remember or share with others, limiting the effectiveness and the ability to find you online.
Consider Domain Names and Social Media Handles
It's important to consider the availability of domain names and social media handles when choosing a brand name. Ideally, your brand name should be available as a domain name and across social media channels. While not a deal breaker, if it's similar, you may need to consider alternative options or variations of your brand name or domain names depending on how similar it is.
Consider Legal and Trademark Issues
Before finalizing a brand name, it's important to ensure that it's legally available and can be trademarked. This means checking for existing trademarks and domain names that could infringe on your brand's name or cause confusion. Working with a trademark attorney can help with this process and ensure that your brand name is legally protected.
It may be hard to move away from your existing brand name, one that’s been used since the origination of your bank or credit union. Changing a company name is time-consuming and costly. But sharing or having similarities in names with other organizations will always run the silent risk of having to share publicity too, and typically for worse. Done right, a brand name realignment with what you and your customers stand for, it will absolutely benefit the bottom line.
If you find your brand name carries more risk than reward, that’s a sure sign that you could use some help working with an agency dedicated to your industry.