Full-page ads in newspapers nationwide are trumpeting the fact that NationsBank Corp. is now BankAmerica Corp.
In markets from New Mexico to North Carolina, plans are being made to replace the NationsBank name with the Bank of America brand.
But none of this is happening in Florida.
Last weekend 463 branches in Florida that NationsBank bought in January from Barnett Banks Inc. got new signs bearing the old NationsBank name and logo.
But some Florida customers of the former Barnett are frustrated by the continuing changes in their marketplace.
"The guys making the signs for these banks must make out like bandits," said John B. Warnken, a Tampa resident. "They put one sign up and then they've got to take it down and put up another.
"It's annoying, and it depersonalizes the whole banking experience. Who the heck is BankAmerica?"
The decision to convert Barnett branches to the NationsBank name while NationsBank itself is converting to the Bank of America brand is an unusual twist in the consolidation frenzy. But it is a recognition that Florida is still very much in a state of merger-related turmoil, officials of the new BankAmerica said.
To avoid compounding confusion, the Florida branches will probably not take the Bank of America brand for at least a year. Indeed, Florida will be the last market to lose the NationsBank brand, officials said.
"Our focus is on making sure we don't confuse customers in any way," said Helen Eggers, the branding and communications executive for the new BankAmerica. "What we intend to do is really give that market time to get settled and get the customers familiar with all of the products and services that NationsBank has to offer and then we will do basically a brand identity change out."
The Florida situation underscores how rapid consolidation is setting up paradoxes in which companies must abandon investments in well-known brands even as they seek to enhance the overall importance of their brand images.
In Florida the investment continues as truckloads of marketing and business materials have been delivered to the former Barnett branches and put up-all bearing the soon-to-be obsolete name of NationsBank, which merged with BankAmerica Sept. 30.
Some say the move to continue the NationsBank name in Florida is questionable. "Why put a cent more into the NationsBank name when it's going to be the Bank of America name?" asked Florida banking expert Kenneth H. Thomas.
But brand consultant Richard Schrerer of Chadwick Martin Bailey Inc., Boston, said NationsBank had little choice because Bank of America does not have much name recognition in Florida.
The challenge in changing Barnett to NationsBank as NationsBank becomes Bank of America will be formulating effective regional marketing, Mr. Schrerer said. "The danger is, the situation could lead to a muddled strategy and one that does not clearly delineate the value proposition for customers."
Competitors hope that is the case. Regional and community banks have invested heavily in campaigns to steal customers from NationsBank, which has a total of 900 banking offices in Florida and holds the No. 1 market share there.
Officials of First Union Corp., which has about 500 branches and the No. 2 market share in Florida, are working overtime to lure business, combining aggressive advertising in Florida with specially priced loans and deposit products.
Ms. Eggers said BankAmerica is still devising its marketing strategy for Florida and throughout the company's newly expanded territory.
Strategies may differ from market to market as the company goes from the NationsBank name to the Bank of America brand, she said. No schedule has been set, but North Carolina and South Carolina will probably be the first to see the brand change.
That switch would probably occur late this year or early in 1999. The rest of the old NationsBank network will be renamed Bank of America on a staggered schedule into 2000.