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Picking up the pace: Starkville-based NBC now Cadence

Starkville — Changing geographic boundaries and expanding product/service offerings have caused many banks to reassess the value of long-standing names. This past week, the former National Bank of Commerce did just that as it unveiled its new Cadence Bank name and brand, which will allow the Starkville-based bank to operate under one single identity throughout its markets.

“We’re changing the name, but we still have the same great people,” said Lewis F. Mallory Jr., chairman and CEO. “The reality of the new brand will be evident in our customer service and how we live that out every day. But as we look at new markets, we need to have the flexibility to go wherever we want to go under a single, unique identity.”

Expansion into new markets has indeed been a part of the company’s strategy as NBC Capital Corp. acquired Memphis-based Enterprise National Bank last year and as the company opens its Birmingham, Ala. location October 17. Because another financial services company in Memphis had the NBC name, Enterprise operated as a separate, subsidiary bank. However, in mid-November, Enterprise will combine with its parent company, allowing both banks to operate under the Cadence name.

“The name change, the addition of the new Birmingham bank and the consolidation of NBC and Enterprise into one operating system are all part of the goals we adopted at the beginning of the year,” Mallory said. “We are excited about delivering on these goals in terms of building long-term shareholder value and expanding branch access for our customers throughout the region.”

While National Bank of Commerce will change its name to Cadence Bank, the holding company will remain NBC Capital Corp. However, at the 2006 annual meeting, the company will seek approval from shareholders to change the holding company name to Cadence Financial Corp.

Eliminating identity issues

Mallory noted that the new name and brand identity was selected following several months of research and reviews, with the assistance of Denver, Colo.-based Monigle Associates, a corporate identity and brand management firm.

Mallory said that research showed that people today — particularly younger customers and prospects — tend to relate more to financial services names that are more broad in nature. While research showed that people associated the company’s brand with positives such as longevity, reliability, trustworthiness, strength and integrity, Mallory noted that the new name conveys an image that retains those attributes, while adding something “bold, fresh and dynamic.”

“When you look around the Southeast, there are a number of NBCs and we wanted the freedom to pursue opportunities where identity issues would not be a problem,” Mallory noted, not only from a legal standpoint, but an image standpoint. “Cadence represents who we are — a strong, reliable financial services company with strong ties to our local communities — but also a company that keeps pace with our customers’ needs.”

Any number of reasons

Dr. Ken Cyree, holder of the Frank R. Day/Mississippi Bankers Association Chair of Banking at the University of Mississippi, stated that there are many reasons why a bank would consider changing its name.

“Many banks are looking to create a marketing brand that will carry across broad markets versus a location-specific name,” Cyree said. “Others want to differentiate themselves from similarly-named competitors, while others wish to signal that they are distinguishing themselves from a previous business focus or model or that they are expanding their product or service approach.”

Mallory said that in tandem with the new name and branding effort, the company has taken the opportunity to look at various processes — such as account opening procedures — in an effort to enhance and improve them.

As anyone with experience in name-change programs understands, the next few weeks and months will be busy for the company as it transitions signage on facilities and ATMs, and other forms/materials.

While the bank announced its new Web site address, www.cadencebanking.com, it also said that anyone using the old address will automatically be forwarded to the new site. A marketing campaign promoting the new Cadence brand is being launched, and customers are advised to continue to use their existing checks, pre-printed deposit slips, debit cards and credit cards until they receive new ones.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Karen Kahler Holliday at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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