August 20, 2014

Signs a bank merger integration has the customer in mind

During a bank merger integration, it’s easy for bank leadership to get caught up in the behind-the-scenes financial and operational activities. That’s why bank executives should decide on the brand strategy, or public face of their merger, prior to the bank merger integration phase. After all, the merger can’t inconvenience or confuse customers by sending the wrong signs.

So what are the most public signs the bank merger integration is well planned and executed? It’s the signs…literally. Exterior and interior signage on buildings, in parking lots, on ATMs, wherever the general public sees your brand.


During the due diligence phase, bank executives need to be brand champions and understand the brand equity that each bank brand brings to the table. Banks typically bring in outside resources to assist with bank merger integration, since the skillset required to handle a large-scale integration is different than the skillset required to keep banks operating on a day-to-day basis.

A large-scale bank rebranding is no different. In many cases, bank branding on a day-to-day basis falls to branch managers, who hire local resources, like sign companies, on an as-needed basis. While the individual sign companies may do a good job for a single branch, the bank as a whole ends up with signs in a wide array of sizes and shapes scattered across its statewide, regional or national territory.

As a case in point, we were recently hired during the bank merger integration phase to rebrand signage across an entire region. Bank executives asked us to include several incumbent sign companies in the selection process for exterior and interior signage, since the sign companies had each provided signs for one or two different branches. When we reviewed their responses to the first stages of our selection process, we noticed right out of the gate the variations in their approach and how they ignored the specifications. Given the scope of the project, this could have led to a disaster.

We ultimately selected a single sign company that embraced standardized specifications engineered for speed, cost efficiency, and brand compliance. This company was accustomed to working on bank merger integration, and familiar with regulatory deadlines and adhering to local sign codes. Bank executives were pleased with the speed, quality and overall cost of the project. Just as importantly, customers could look at the new signs and immediately know that the merger had taken place.

Bottom line – pay attention to the signs. During bank merger integration, making sure the new brand is highly visible right away helps retain key clients. After all, you don’t want to send a “STOP” sign when what you really mean is “WELCOME.”