Smushed-Together Names Are Out

Americans have had enough of smushed-together corporate names.

At least that was the view that emerged from the consumer tests that resulted in the brand name unveiled Thursday for the newly merged entity of BankAmerica and NationsBank, a bank official told The new name is Bank of America - spaces and all.

The merger passed its final hurdle last Thursday when shareholders from both banks overwhelmingly approved the combination, creating the nation's largest and first coast-to-coast bank, spanning 27 states.

"Early on, if I'd had to bet, I would have bet that the name would be BankAmerica," said Ken Lewis, president of consumer and commercial banking at the bank. "But the empirical evidence of 5,000 consumers said no. Perhaps there's a backlash out there against words getting smushed together. The name 'Bank of America' blew everything else away."

The company will now start hanging its new flag-shaped red, white and blue logo on 5,000 branches in 22 states, the District of Columbia and foreign countries, Lewis said. The costs of the new signage will be included in the $1.3 billion third-quarter restructuring charge that the company declared when the merger was announced in April.

"We have the opportunity to become the most widely known brand in the financial-services industry," Lewis said. "The most powerful word in the name is 'America.' "

The move by Bank of America goes against the grain of an apparent trend toward eliminating spaces between words in financial-industry brand names. Price Waterhouse, for one, became PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Then there's BankBoston. And even Germany's CommerzBank. (Closer to home, there's some undeniable smushing in CBS MarketWatch.)

The new NationsBank-BankAmerica superbank unveiled its new logo and its sort-of-new name in a 90-second commercial by NationsBank ad agency Temerlin McClain of Irving, Texas, that aired on Disney (DIS) unit ABC's Nightline and Time Warner (TWX) unit CNN's Moneyline.

WPP Group (WPPGY) unit Anspach Grossman of New York handled the brand name and designed the logo.

Chief Executive Officer Hugh McColl said in an afternoon press conference that Bank of America is reviewing proposals from several agencies for the $80 million to $100 million account.

Temerlin, Deutsch, N.Y., which has been BankAmerica's agency; Fallon McElligott; Bozell Worldwide; Lowe & Partners; and Saatchi & Saatchi are in the running, according to the trade magazine Adweek.

The company said the new look "evokes the company's breadth, scope and pride and the unity of its people under one flag."

Writte By Steve Gelsi