A Rose by Any Other Name

A Slew of Banks That Serve Coral Gables are in the Midst of Rebranding, Including Capital

By J.P. Faber

Fall 2019

For Roberto Muñoz (shown above), the idea of changing Capital Bank to First Horizon makes common sense. As part of the holding company First Horizon National Corporation, Capital is part of a banking group that also includes First Tennessee, which holds the largest market share in that state. It’s confusing.

The current Capital Bank brand (it had been a Miami bank in the ’80s and ’90s) was brought back to life in 2010, when several Florida banks, including Metro Bank and The Keys Bank, were cobbled together and marketed as a new banking entity. Two years ago, First Tennessee acquired the new Capital Bank, along with its network of 30 branches in South and Southwest Florida.

“Capital is a wonderful name, and we have spent a good amount of money building the brand in our region. It has a very good service reputation,” says Muñoz, who in January was named Miami Market President for Capital. “But when we got acquired by First Tennessee, we were marketing two brands – First Tennessee in Tennessee, and Capital Bank in South Florida. The third thing was, we had a holding company called First Horizon. So, how do you align branding? How do you align marketing?”

In the case of Capital, the decision was to market all its eggs in one branding basket, First Horizon. “A lot of banks … are rebranding and remarketing just based on a common-sense approach to how clients feel, and whether they feel at home anywhere they bank,” says Muñoz. “Having a single brand allows that to happen. We are name brand changing so that we can maximize our spend, and make sure we are maximizing the same brand image in Tennessee [as here].”

Capital Bank is far from alone in what amounts to a flurry of bank rebranding for institutions that are based, or serve significant market share, in Coral Gables.

The first of these is already complete: the rebranding of Mercantil Bank to Amerant Bank, a process completed earlier this year. Mercantil had been part of Venezuela’s Mercantil Servicios Financieros, spun off last year as a Coral Gables-based community bank. The rebranding reflected that change. “We want to simplify everything to focus exclusively on the U.S. market,” says Amerant CEO Millar Wilson of the new brand.

Other rebrandings have to do with mergers and acquisitions. The outward face of Marquis Bank, for example, will be rebranded as Professional Bank, when its merger with the latter Coral Gables-based institution is completed over the next several months. Brickell Bank, meanwhile, is currently being acquired by Banesco, and will take on the name of that once Venezuelan and now global brand.

Though no decisions have been officially made, BAC is another locally recognized bank name that is expected to change – to rebrand as Bradesco once their acquisition by that second largest bank in Brazil is complete. “Bradesco wants a recognizable presence in the U.S., because they’ll be doing private banking here, and the name Bradesco will be recognizable to Brazilians,” says banking consultant Dennis Nason.

“Banking is all about marketing,” says Nason, who previously ran Miami’s top executive search firm for bank executives. “The only thing you can sell is service, and all the banks are pretty much alike [in service capabilities], so what they want to do is rally around a name. Brand loyalty is to get a name easily recognizable and have people be loyal to it.”

“There’s lots of inherent thoughts that go through a person’s mind when they see a [bank] name,” says Muñoz, including a bank’s capabilities, its reputation, its price points (yes, there is comparison shopping), and whether it’s here to stay. In the end, however, it may come down to a simple emotional association with a brand. “I mean, is it a bank that cares?” asks Muñoz. “That is a thought a person comes to.”

The Great Name Change

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