Branch Banking & Trust Co., the North Carolina bank that took over Pennsylvania-based Susquehanna and National Penn banks, says it plans to replace its BB&T brand with a new name after its planned merger with Atlanta-based SunTrust this fall.
The combination will be known as Truist, BB&T chairman and chief executive Kelly S. King said in a statement.
That’s ‘trust,’ with an ‘I.’
Officials said they intend to keep the BB&T name in existing venues where commitments have been made.
And in time, they expect Truist will be incorporated in all of the venues and partnerships in their communities.
So the Atlanta Braves and their opponents may in the future play big-league baseball at Truist Stadium, and the BB&T (formerly Susquehanna) concert center in Camden could become the Truist Pavilion. And the Florida Panthers’ home, currently the BB&T Center, could get “its fifth name in 20 years,” according to AP reporter Terry Spencer. “It was previously the National Car Rental Center, the Office Depot Center and the Bank Atlantic Center.”
But first, “shareholders still have to approve the new name," bank analyst Stephen Scouten told clients at Sandler O’Neill + Partners, New York, in a report Thursday.
King said in a statement that the new name, developed with consultants at New York-based Interbrand, will be “true to the heritage of both companies," which both began as trust banks for Southern business owners and other wealthy families around 1900.
The Truist name will be “a hard sell,” with the brand “looking like a typo” and “landing with a thud,” American Banker predicted, after checking public reaction. The publication also cited branding experts noting that similar synthetic names have succeeded at other merged companies, with aid from attractive products and smart marketing.
“The name is ridiculous. I doubt much research was done here,” said David Neff, head of Philadelphia publicist Neff Associates, which advises a rival bank, Downingtown-based DNB Financial Corp., after reading BB&T’s description of the new name. Neff said the name doesn’t build off the previous names, isn’t “memorable” and doesn’t “tell the story behind the theoretically stronger, more far-reaching financial service provider.”
“Truist” sounds like “Truish,” TV comic Stephen Colbert’s term for political statements meant to fool people, adds Donald DeMarco of Philadelphia in an email reaction to this story.
"This merger, and the re-branding, will be a continual process, where we will not see the true results for several years,” analyst Scouten added, noting that King has said the merger was driven by bank automation and technology needs. Given the merger’s long runway, he’s not recommending the shares of the merger partners at current prices, rating them “neutral” until the deal is further along.
Truist, assuming that name is adopted, would be the sixth-largest bank in the United States, with about $450 billion in loans and other bank assets. Its nearly 2,000 branches are concentrated along the Atlantic coast, from the Washington area to Florida.
The Philadelphia area is its northern-most major-metro market, but it has a bigger presence around Allentown, where National Penn was based, and Lancaster, former home of Susquehanna. National Penn also included the former Chestnut Hill National Bank in Philadelphia.
BB&T as of last summer operated 94 branches in the Philadelphia region, with just under $5 billion in deposits. That’s the fifth-largest branch network in the region, trailing only Wells Fargo, TD, Citizens, and PNC, and ahead of Bank America, Santander, the planned WSFS-Beneficial combination (once it’s done closing redundant branches), and the region’s dozens of smaller banks, which have consolidated in waves of mergers since the 1990s. (SunTrust has no branch-banking presence in the region.)
On a visit to Philadelphia two years ago, CEO King, who will run Truist, said he wanted to expand his bank’s presence in the city, and promised to open more branches by 2020.
But initially, BB&T’s local profile shrank. It closed 21 area branches, and its metro Philly deposits dropped $500 million from 2016-18, to just under $5 billion, or 1 percent of the region’s total, according to data BB&T reported to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. last year.