Texas Bank Names Wear Pride like 10-Gallon Hat

Article excerpt

Texas likes itself, and this is evident even in the names of its financial institutions.

Take its newest bank, in Houston: The Right Bank for Texas.

Chief executive Mike Roy said he got the idea for the name from his wife, who jokingly suggested "The Left Bank." (She's fond of the district in Paris -- France, that is, not Texas.)

"We have this sense of pride and heritage in our state, and we pride ourselves on being Texans," Mr. Roy said. "We're like a nation unto ourselves. It just made sense to incorporate that into our name."

Many others feel the same.

Among the 90 banks and thrifts with "Texas" in their names are five called First Texas, three named Texas First, one Texas First National Bank, a Texas First State Bank, three Texas State banks, and three known simply as Texas Bank, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And that does not include the four with "Lone Star" in their names or the three more that use the prefix "Tex."

Bankers, trade group executives, and marketing experts offered several reasons why Texas easily leads the nation in this category, aside from the sheer size of the state.

Steve Scurlock, the executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas, said the names became more popular as local banks, which had previously used their cities in their titles, branched into new markets in the state.

Moreover, " 'Texas' is a word that sort of rolls off the tongue," he said. "Or at least more so than something like 'Massachusetts.' " (Indeed only five of more than 200 banks and thrifts in Massachusetts use the state's name.)

Charlie Amato, a director at Clear Lake National Bank in San Antonio, said another factor is the frontier image that John Wayne movies helped perpetuate. "The state carries an aura of rugged western integrity and an image of its own value system of fair play," Mr. Amato said.

But Dale Terry, the chairman of Genesis Group, a financial marketing firm in Dallas, said it is important to remember that Texas mystique is not Texas reality.

"It's not all like you see in Hollywood movies and commercials," and there are probably more cowboys in places like Wyoming or Kansas, Mr. Terry said.

But the mystique sticks because it sells, said Charlene Stern, a senior vice president at NewGround, a Chicago branding firm that specializes in financial services.

"If you think about it, Texas is a very strong brand," Ms. Stern said. "Texans are fiercely loyal to it, and it only makes sense for banks to associate themselves with it."

Joseph M. "Jody" Grant, the CEO of $1.25 billion-asset Texas Capital Bank in Dallas, which was founded in 1998 and now has seven branches, said that Texas "used to be a separate nation, and I think our early independence and all of our heroes and historic battles are some of the main roots of our pride. …