Adrenaline’s CXO and CBO Author ABA Banking Journal Byline on Bank Branding

In “Brand Building for Growth,” Gina Bleedorn and Juliet D’Ambrosio explore three bank brands refreshing their identities for differentiation, relevance and growth

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 – As financial institutions of all sizes shift into growth mode, many face “unfamiliar questions and unique challenges,” according to the new ABA Banking Journal byline penned by Adrenaline’s Chief Experience Officer Gina Bleedorn and Chief Brand Officer Juliet D’Ambrosio. These include measures banks and credit unions should take to make their brands more distinctive in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Oftentimes, a new name or reimagined brand is the best way to compete. But how do you know when it’s time for change?

In their new actionable article in the ABA Banking Journal, Gina and Juliet explore three examples of financial brands taking on the challenge of change and the benefits their banks were able to realize as a result.

Renaming to Differentiate

To build a brand that endures, having an “ownable name and identity is foundational, especially in banking” where common names like ‘citizens’ and ‘first’ are everywhere, and no one can claim them as their own. “This issue of ownability often rises up when a bank is looking to expand to new markets, where their current name limits their opportunities.” So, banks that want to grow will want to change. “That’s what happened with a beloved Northern Plains financial institution as it prioritized expansion into additional opportunity markets.”

Bravera Bank Billboard

The bank formerly known as American Bank Center needed a more ownable name to fuel growth. With so many companies using ‘American’ – 62 in North Dakota alone – a new name would help position them for the future. Rebranding and renaming gave the bank a new identity – Bravera – that “captured a regionally relevant, pioneering spirit rooted in core values of future-focused empowerment and resiliency.” The new identity communicates “the bank’s combined resources and geographic expansiveness to deliver on a broader and more powerful promise.”

Realigning for Scale

While an ownable name is essential, it’s equally important to have a “clear and coherent brand architecture.” That means a brand can rally around a singular promise, positioning the institution to best reach target audiences in the way that’s most meaningful to them. As outlined in the article: “Especially when paired with a refreshed identity, combining and aligning multiple sub-brands can result in increased perceptions of scale and prominence, as banks undertake opportunity-focused marketing efforts to introduce or reaffirm the brand in people’s minds.”

Scale is just what regional banking leader Park National Bank was looking for. As they grew, Park’s affiliate autonomy model for their 12 separate brands was starting to cause unintentional barriers for their customers and communities. “To create clarity and focus – internally and externally – the bank’s leaders saw rich potential in more unified positioning.” Uniting under the Park National Bank name, the bank had great brand equity to build on and an effective way to operate as a “more sophisticated and scaled player in the markets it serves today and expands to tomorrow.”

Repositioning for Relevance

There are compelling competitive reasons for institutions to evaluate their brands and change their names. But there are also times for banks to retain their names and refresh their brands to unleash more growth. With change being such a heavy lift, if banks have enough equity in their existing name, it benefits them to “modernize the brand without touching the name.” According to the article: “For many banks, carrying their legacy forward to more relevantly and resonantly position in today’s world means refreshing an identity and rebranding.”

Guaranty Bank and Trust Billboard

That’s what Guaranty Bank and Trust in Mississippi did upon expanding into the growth market of Memphis.  As leadership passed from one generation to the next, the bank’s new CEO made clear he was committed to “preserving the business bank’s legacy while expanding its prospects.” With their refresh, the “respected institution kept the best of the past while embracing a new vision of growth” with a brand ready to “meet the next-generation banking customer and support commercial lending with a more modern and signature Southern style.” With their new brand in place, Guaranty’s reinvigorated marketing could meet the moment and the market.

For all of Gina and Juliet’s insights, read the full article “Brand Building for Growth” in ABA Banking Journal. First printed in 1908, ABA Banking Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bankers Association and is published online and in bi-monthly print editions. The publication provides analysis, insights and best practices for financial institutions of all sizes. 

To speak with one of Adrenaline’s thought leaders on brand-to-branch strategies that unleash powerful growth, contact us at Be sure to also stay tuned in to Believe in Banking as it highlights industry information and insights for banking leaders and Adrenaline’s Insights channel featuring banking and credit union strategies for success. 

Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. We create brands people love and engage audiences with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.

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