By BECKY GILLETTE
When the name of a major bank changes, there are a lot of challenges that go beyond just changing the signs and all the documentation. Community Trust Bank was more than a hundred years old in late 2015 when the bank with assets of about $3.8-billion underwent a name change to Origin Bank.
Ryan R. Kilpatrick, senior vice president and director of culture strategies, said the number one challenge was clearly communicating that their bank had not sold or merged.
“We wanted to make sure that our customers and communities knew that our way of doing business had not changed,” Kilpatrick said. “With locations in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana and the emphasis we had placed on branding heavily throughout our markets, we had a big task from the standpoint of changing our signage at banking centers, ATMs, stadiums and school gymnasiums.”
Of utmost importance to any company that goes through a brand change, Kilpatrick said, it remembering what it stands for and what message they wants to convey to its clients and communities.
“This project took well over a year and our group was very focused on every detail. From signage to communication, from letterhead to website, our team was meticulous in every detail.” — RYAN KILPATRICK
“We started with an ideation session about who we had been as a company, where we currently were, and who we wanted to be in the future,” he said. “From there we wanted a name that paid tribute to our past and, equally as important, symbolized who we wanted to be. Having a strong team was one of most important parts of this task. This project took well over a year and our group was very focused on every detail. From signage to communication, from letterhead to website, our team was meticulous in every detail.”
The bank headquartered in Louisiana has 41 banking centers in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas and a total of 658 employees. About 90 employees are based in Mississippi where there are banking centers in Ridgeland, Madison, Flowood and Oxford. The company expects to be in its new Jackson location in the District at Eastover Development by the middle of 2016. Origin Bank also has a mortgage operation center in Flowood and a mortgage loan production office in Jackson.
“Larry Ratzlaff is our Mississippi president and he and his team have done an incredible job of growing the Mississippi market and creating meaningful relationships,” Kilpatrick said. “We are very committed to continued growth, investment and focus in Mississippi.”
“Community” and “trust” are two of the most common names used for banks, and in undergoing the name change, a top priority was to have a name that made them stand out from the crowd.
“Having a name you can call your own is critical in the branding space,” Kilpatrick said. “Origin does that for us. We have the name trademarked and will be the only Origin Bank in the United States. We believe we have a unique way of doing business. Our banking teams are focused on our mission, which revolves around our customers, employees, shareholders and communities. When a customer walks into Origin Bank, they will notice a different style of banking and a different breed of bankers. We are unique and that uniqueness is represented in our name.”
Linnéa Allen, cultural communications officer/social media director, Origin Bank, said taking the big step to change the name of the bank was critical because their markets had become saturated with banks with community and/or trust in their names — over 230 bank branches, to be exact.
“During a recent system conversion prior to the brand launch, we had customers mistakenly downloading the wrong smartphone app,” she said. “They were downloading other bank apps due to name confusion. Our desire was to come up with a name that is as unique as we believe we are and to minimize confusion throughout our markets. Because we now have a trademark on our name, we will always be the only Origin Bank in the country.”
Allen said reaction to the name change from customers has been positive, especially in Mississippi and Texas. There was a hint of concern at the outset from customers in Louisiana who had been banking with them for decades.
“Once they were assured that we had not been sold and had not merged with another bank, their fears were assuaged,” she said. “The announcement was especially fun to watch on social media. As the social media director, I was closely monitoring all social channels and running constant searches to find any comments or posts regarding our bank and the name change. It was a beautiful thing to witness our employees posting comments explaining the reasons behind the change and their excitement about it. There were a few times when an employee would come across a negative post that he or she was not sure how to answer. In those cases, as they had been advised to do previously, they would contact me and I would assist them in constructing a response. I was so proud to be part of a team that was so proactive and so prepared, and it was a joy to witness how it all unfolded.”
The first step they took in their brand launch was to announce the change to employees October 6th. Each market president made the announcement of the name change, after which they surprised the employees with t-shirts, coffee cups, tumblers, lapel pins and other items with the new logo and branding elements.
“The next couple of days our employees attended training sessions that explained the re-branding process and reasons behind the change, and advised them as to what questions they might be asked by customers in the coming weeks and how to best answer those questions,” Allen said. “The change was announced publicly on October 9th. At that time we also posted the announcement to our Facebook and Twitter accounts and launched a new Instagram account. One of the keys to the success of the brand launch was the fact that our employees were excited about it, armed with the knowledge behind the process, and prepared in advance as to how to handle any questions they might receive from customers.”
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