I have the privilege of facilitating workshops for bank and credit union associations across the country. During a recent workshop I conducted on branding, participants took a valuable detour to discuss financial institution name changes.

I have worked in this industry a long time, and I’m still amazed at the stories my workshop participants tell me about how their financial institutions were renamed. Based on that recent workshop, I offer you four methods your financial institution should never use to change its name.

We like (fill in the blank)…let’s do that. Your name change efforts are doomed for failure if the name is selected based on the common interest of a few employees.

“We like butterflies, let’s name it after that.”

“Everybody likes patriotic themes. Let’s go in that direction.”

A name change requires research and strategy and should reflect your financial institution’s potential for growth. It’s not based on what random people like.

Let the CEO do it. Your CEO is taking a big gamble if he or she changes the name without anyone else knowing about it. This actually happened in at least one financial institution we know. The CEO didn’t just choose the name. He also worked with a vendor and had a logo created to match the new name. The result was not good. A name change using this method may work for a small business owned by one person, but your financial institution does not fit that description. 

Choose it based on a cool logo. This makes about as much sense as choosing a house because the window treatments in the model home look good. You don’t choose a name based on a logo. In fact, you shouldn’t even have a logo until after your research and name change strategy are complete.

Do everything in-house. I may be biased on this, but trust me when I say the last thing your financial institution needs is a handful of executives and board members sitting around a table re-naming your financial institution. You need outside perspective and legal guidance, among other expertise.

Changing your financial institution’s name is a complex undertaking. It is a lengthy process that involves both internal and external perspective, incredible focus, proper guidance and an extremely open mind. If you expect your efforts to succeed, avoid the mistakes above, all of which are actual decisions made by financial institutions.