Naming SNAFUs Plague Multiple Commerce Banks

Okay, sorry, this gets a little complicated. There was a Commerce Bank in New Jersey. But earlier this year, TD Banknorth took them over. That merger created a huge naming hassle — including a lawsuit from a Commerce Bank in Massachusetts — over the Commerce name. In the end, the Massachusetts bank prevailed, preventing the Canadian behemoth from using TD Commerce, the name it preferred.

Now, a Commerce Bank — this one in Pennsylvania — is merging with Philadelphia-based Republic First Bank. These newlyweds are opting for Metro Bank as their new name. The combined company will have total assets over $3 billion and more than 1,200 team members. The company will pursue an aggressive growth strategy with new stores in Central Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and other markets.

The trouble is, there is already a Metro Bank in Houston. And one in Alabama. And another in Florida. Oh yeah, and one more in Georgia.


A collection of Metro Bank logos from various financial institutions from around the country.
Notice the use of circles containing an ‘M’ or ‘M’ symbol in each of the logos.

But wait… There’s more.

There’s also a First Metro Bank in Alabama, an American Metro Bank in Illinois, and a US Metro Bank in California.

Reality Check: You shouldn’t use another bank’s name — ever.

  1. It doesn’t help differentiate you.
  2. It makes it harder for people to find you online.
  3. It exposes you to all kinds of legal problems over trademarks.

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter if the bank is in another state. If you pick a name identical to another financial institution, you’re opening yourself up to a world of legal hurt. It doesn’t even have to be identical, as was the case with TD Commerce.

Bottom Line: If your bank or credit union is considering a name change, avoid new names that sound safe and familiar. Avoid them like the plague. It takes less than 5 minutes in Google to see what kind of trouble you can expect.

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