BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. announced the name of their proposed combined bank on Wednesday — Truist Financial Corp.
The name, which will go by Truist Bank at retail, was selected from "thousands of choices" reviewed by bank employees, clients and with the assistance of global marketing firm Interbrand, said Dontá Wilson, BB&T's chief digital and client experience officer.
It's pronounced TRUE-ist.
Wilson said the banks conducted “a lot of qualitative, a lot of quantitative research.”
Even though the new name is relatively short in letters, it carries weighty connotations, Wilson said.
"It signifies 'true' to our legacies," Wilson said. "It signifies 'trust' in transparency and honesty. It signifies 'stand for better,' as in technology, customer experience, partnerships and the future."
Considering the two super-regional banks are collectively more than 275 years old, the name could be as pivotal a decision as any integration step the banks take between now and their potential merger.
“With the merger of equals, our goal is to create a bold, transformative organization that delivers a smarter and easier client experience through technology and human connection,” said Kelly King, BB&T's chairman and chief executive who will stay in those roles with Truist.
“True to the heritage of both companies, Truist will reflect what we stand for – a shared belief in building a better future for our clients and communities.”
Deal announced four months ago
The unveiling comes a little more than four months after BB&T and SunTrust announced their $66 billion megadeal on Feb. 7.
The deal requires shareholder and regulatory approvals. Shareholders are projected to hold simultaneous votes on the deal in September, with BB&T shareholders also voting on whether to approve Truist as the brand.
At least one other group goes by the same name, including TRUiST Inc., a provider of corporate philanthropy solutions associated with nonprofit financial services company FrontStream Holdings LLC.
When asked about any trademark concerns with Truist, BB&T said "over the past few months, we’ve conducted a rigorous process to research, select and secure our new name."
"We knew with 300 million company names in the world, it would be challenging to find a forward-thinking name, but we feel very good about our choice," Wilson said. "We expect it to be well received.
"It is the first visible sign of unity for the banks, our employers, our customers and the marketplace to rally around. It's like a married couple beginning to share a last name."
The banks are working with Interbrand to develop the logo, typography and signage. Those will be rolled out closer to when the deal closes "to help the marketplace stay tuned to all the unifying steps," Wilson said.
Marketing analysts said the banks could be holding back on those developments as a hedge as they consider initial reaction to the new name and brand.
"I think slow-playing the process is less disruptive, and this reflects both BB&T and SunTrust’s desire to be careful," said Chris Marinac, research director for Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. "It makes sense to me."
Truist is "a brand name representative of two mission- and purpose-driven companies coming together to serve our clients as a true financial partner” said Bill Rogers, SunTrust's chairman and chief executive.
Rogers would serve as Truist's president and chief operating officer before succeeding King as chief executive in September 2021 and as chairman in March 2022.
“As part of our relentless pursuit to create a better experience, we’re making a commitment to always look forward, pursue what’s next and strive to do more to further financial well-being for everyone.”
BB&T shareholders would have a 57% stake in the combined bank. Its headquarters would be placed in Charlotte, with Winston-Salem getting the community banking division and Atlanta the wholesale banking division.
The banks are projecting a late third-quarter or fourth-quarter closing. Analysts say push back from some Democratic congressional leaders, such as presidential nominee candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, could delay approval into early 2020.
The combined BB&T-SunTrust, at $442 billion in total assets, would be on the heels of US Bancorp’s $476 billion as the largest super-regional bank in the country, as well as fifth largest bank overall.
Following a potential closing, the banks are projecting an integration period lasting between nine and 18 months.
North Carolina and Georgia are likely to be among the last states for branch and signage conversion because of the size of their deposits and branch networks. The overall bank would serve more than 10 million households.
The signage changes will take place not only at branches, online and on stationary.
They will also affect multiple sports venues, such as SunTrust Park in Atlanta, BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, and BB&T Point in High Point.
"It will be interesting to see if the Major League Baseball stadium in Atlanta is fast-tracked for the new logo in the 2020 baseball season, or if that gets slower adoption, too," Marinac said.
New name, new bank
BB&T — short for Branch Banking and Trust — has had basically the same name and brand since its founding in Wilson in 1872 by Alpheus Branch and Thomas Jefferson Hadley.
SunTrust took its name from the 1985 merger of Trust Co. of Georgia (founded in 1891) and SunBanks, based in Florida.
According to the 2019 ranking of the Brand Finance U.S. 500 corporations, BB&T was ranked No. 193 with a value of $4.33 billion. It was ranked ninth among banks and 11th among financial services companies. SunTrust was ranked No. 237 with a value of $3.52 billion.
Rogers said opting for a new corporate brand "was very intentional, as we want the building of the brand to be part of that process where we build unity and come together as a company.”
“It’ll reflect all the things that we’ve been talking about, about leaning forward and thinking about the future, and I think this is going to be one of those great cultural moments for our company of building this brand together.
“Kelly and I have been with our respective companies our entire careers, and I can assure you no two individuals are more attached to their brands."
King has been with BB&T for 47 years, joining its management development program in 1972. He has served as CEO since January 2009 and chairman since January 2010.
Meanwhile, Rogers, 61, has been with Trust Co. and SunTrust since 1980 and has been chairman and chief executive since 2011.
“So, while we honor and respect our past, absolutely, we elected to create a new brand that reflects our future as the premier financial institution,” Rogers said.
“But we also want to involve our associates and teammates, really get their feedback and build ownership in the brand vs. something Kelly and I cook in the backroom and introduce.”