BankBoston Corp. has created a new position: branding czar.
David Vazdauskas started March 1 as director of brand identity and creative services, reporting to Karen Green, BankBoston's director of marketing.
Mr. Vazdauskas' main job is to manage the $69.3 billion-asset banking company's brand identity and the way it is communicated globally. He also oversees BankBoston's on-line marketing and creative services groups.
He joined the company from Lippincott & Margulies, a New York-based brand identity consulting firm, where he was a partner. Before that, he held positions at Mercer Management Consulting and at two advertising agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Foote, Cone & Belding.
His hiring demonstrates the importance banking companies have placed on developing a consistent image, consultants said.
Other large banking companies have created similar roles. Citicorp, for example, hired former H.J. Heinz & Co. executive Brian Ruder last year to oversee brand development for its global consumer businesses.
Mr. Ruder is an executive vice president at Citi, reporting to William I. Campbell, head of Citi's global consumer bank.
Industry consolidation may be forcing banking companies to take a closer look at how they present themselves, image consultants said.
"As these organizations get larger and make more and more acquisitions, the problem of getting a standard message out there gets bigger," said consultant Edward Furash of Furash & Co. in Alexandria, Va.
The creation of a special executive position devoted to branding issues comes amid a restructuring at BankBoston. The company said last October that it was reviewing its various business activities and would make changes with the goal of improving customer service.
Much of the restructuring focuses on the company's New England consumer business, analysts said. BankBoston said in an Oct. 17 memorandum to employees that it wanted to create a more uniform experience for consumers.
Unlike other financial services firms-Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab & Co., for example-banking companies have struggled with creating and maintaining a focused, homogeneous identity, Mr. Furash said.
One way to fix that has been through advertising. Last summer, Citicorp fired three of its longtime advertising agencies and moved all of its business to Young & Rubicam Inc. At the time, Mr. Ruder said the move would help Citi develop a more cohesive brand.
For the same reason, BankBoston also recently moved all of its advertising to a Boston-based agency, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulus Inc. It previously had split the business between Hill, Holliday and Mullen Advertising Inc. in New York.
Mr. Furash warned that relying solely on cosmetic fixes such as advertising could backfire, however.
"Banks are operating under the shocking myth that brands are created by advertising," he said. "You can't separate the brand from service to the customer."