B of A Chairman Says Market Research Aided Decision between 2 Strong Brands

Article excerpt

BankAmerica Corp. saw "long-term potential" in both of the brand names it had to choose from, chairman Hugh L. McColl Jr. said Thursday.

Market research results tilted the scales toward Bank of America, which was unveiled in television commercials late Wednesday and hailed by Mr. McColl as a key strategic decision by the newly minted, $572 billion-asset banking company.

Versus the alternative-NationsBank-the winning name scored higher in several market segments on both the retail and corporate sides.

And it had the word "America" in its favor, which represents "ingenuity, optimism, and pride," Mr. McColl said.

Underscoring its status as the first coast-to-coast bank and its ambitions for further growth, the Charlotte, N.C.-based company also adopted a red, white, and blue logo.

Jonathan Bell, director of Interbrand, a New York-based corporate image consulting firm, said the decision to go with Bank of America reflected an attempt to build on one of the industry's venerable brand names while creating a "fresh look."

When they announced their merger agreement in April, NationsBank and BankAmerica executives chose the latter name for the holding company but left open the question of which would appear on bank offices. They did not even commit to making the choice by the merger's closing, which occurred Wednesday.

They studied the alternatives exhaustively-and in secret-with help from the consulting firm Anspach Grossman Enterprise. All options were said to be on the table, including a possible hybrid that took elements from both names.

However, it became clear over time that officials would eventually come down on one side or the other. …