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Flushing Financial Launches Web Bank, and a Brand

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The name that Flushing Financial Corp. in Lake Success, N.Y., gave the Internet bank it launched Monday - iGObanking.com - is meant to convey the idea of moving forward, executives at the $2.4 billion-asset thrift company said.

It chose to create a brand for the online-only unit because its Flushing Savings Bank, which has a dozen branches in the New York area, is unfamiliar to people in other markets, said Emer Walsh, who is in charge of marketing for iGObanking.

"We wanted to go with something very generic that would mean something all over the country," Ms. Walsh said.

John R. Buran, the president and chief executive officer of Flushing Financial and Flushing Savings, said he hopes to generate attention for iGObanking with a 5.3% annual percentage yield on its savings account, which has no fees and no minimums.

But Mr. Buran said he was unsure how long that rate will be in effect. "We'll see where the market goes. The competition in New York is very tough right now. Between 5% and 5.3% turns out to be the sweet spot for getting any money at all. Our understanding is it's not quite the same case across the United States."

The intent of the Internet bank is to fund loan growth at Flushing Savings by gathering deposits outside New York and to allow branch employees to refocus on relationship building, he said.

An online advertising campaign for iGObanking is expected to kick off today.

Ms. Walsh said ads will appear on Web sites such as kiplinger.com, TheStreet.com, About.com, and Smartmoney.com. Ads also should pop up with some Google search engine results.

The campaign, which uses the tag line "Real Simple, Real Smart," will target Internet users on the East Coast, she said.

Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York consulting firm, said it is understandable that Flushing would want a different brand for its online bank. The Flushing name can call to mind the idea of "flushing your money down the tubes."

Still, the name the company chose is "too generic" and "too cute," he said. "They should've come up with something that had more strength."

Maria A. Grasso, the chief operating officer for Flushing Savings, said iGObanking initially is offering only savings accounts and certificates of deposit. But she said another phase is being planned for late 2007 or early 2008 in which additional products, such as home equity loans and mortgages, probably will be introduced.

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