Vowels In, Consonants Out As Bank Renames

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“’Folsom Bank of Commerce’ is too many consonants and too many syllables.”
Greg Patton, President
Commerce Bank of Folsom

Effective August 1, 2008, Commerce Bank of Folsom will be changing its name to Sierra Vista Bank. The bank’s official explanation is that the new name is more reflective of the areas they serve as the bank expands outside of Folsom.

“No one wants to come into a bank that has the name of another city on it if they are in a different city,” said bank president Greg Patton. (Did anyone tell him that Sierra Vista is the name of a city in Arizona?)

But that’s not all he said. Apparently the old name was a weighty linguistic anchor: “Folsom Bank of Commerce (sic) is too many consonants and too many syllables.”

Huh? Too many consonants? The old name had 14 consonants and 6 vowels. The new name has 9 consonants and 5 vowels. That’s five fewer consonants. But is that really any better? Does the number of consonants a name has really have any bearing on its appeal or appropriateness?

Syllables are another story. At least one can argue that a name with too many syllables is too long. But here’s the funny thing: The new name has exactly as many syllables as the old one – six.

The bank is keeping the same basic logo and colors, but is changing the typeface.

Bottom Line: Geographic names cut both ways. They say you’re local, but they can become a barrier to growth down the road.

Dave Alford, a bank consultant in the Folsom area commenting on the Sierra Vista name change, offers this advice: “I’ve always been a fan of the geographically generic name. I am a firm believer in the generic name so that you can open in any market.”

Good advice Dave.

UPDATE: August 9, 2008 – Sierra Vista changes its stock ticker to OTCBB SVBA. The old ticker symbol was OTCBB CBFM.

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