BankAmerica Corp. saw "long-term potential" in both of the brand names it had to choose from, chairman Hugh L. McColl Jr. said Thursday.
Market research results tilted the scales toward Bank of America, which was unveiled in television commercials late Wednesday and hailed by Mr. McColl as a key strategic decision by the newly minted, $572 billion-asset banking company.
Versus the alternative-NationsBank-the winning name scored higher in several market segments on both the retail and corporate sides.
And it had the word "America" in its favor, which represents "ingenuity, optimism, and pride," Mr. McColl said.
Underscoring its status as the first coast-to-coast bank and its ambitions for further growth, the Charlotte, N.C.-based company also adopted a red, white, and blue logo.
Jonathan Bell, director of Interbrand, a New York-based corporate image consulting firm, said the decision to go with Bank of America reflected an attempt to build on one of the industry's venerable brand names while creating a "fresh look."
When they announced their merger agreement in April, NationsBank and BankAmerica executives chose the latter name for the holding company but left open the question of which would appear on bank offices. They did not even commit to making the choice by the merger's closing, which occurred Wednesday.
They studied the alternatives exhaustively-and in secret-with help from the consulting firm Anspach Grossman Enterprise. All options were said to be on the table, including a possible hybrid that took elements from both names.
However, it became clear over time that officials would eventually come down on one side or the other. Bank of America became the betting favorite. It had the longer history and was not associated with customer-service problems, as NationsBank was after some previous mergers.
Bank analysts said the move to the consolidated image would be helpful. But "the real task is ahead of them," said Frank J. Barkocy, managing director of Josephthal & Co. That is, he said, to put the company to work without disrupting or alienating customers.
BankAmerica is now the largest U.S. banking company, with 29 million customer households, 5,000 branches, two million business clients, $30 billion of annual revenues, and $8 billion of operating profits.
"If you have the products and services, can identify products your customers don't have, and then deliver them through a host of delivery systems, that is the ultimate," Mr. Barkocy said.
Mr. McColl described BankAmerica is "an entirely new kind of bank" that offers a "new definition of convenience," for customers around the world. This merger gives us tremendous size, breadth and resources."
He said Bank of America's automated teller machine, telephone, and home banking networks create the "most advanced access to products and services" in the industry.
Mr. Barkocy said Mr. McColl's enthusiasm is well-founded.
"Part of it is bravado on his part," the analyst said. "But part of it is a real ability to deliver."