Citibank Florida is firing up its branding campaign.

The $3.5 billion-asset unit of Citigroup this week announced a 12-year agreement this week to become a sponsor of the Miami Heat basketball team. Terms were not disclosed.

The pact lets the bank install automated teller machines and post signs in the Heat's new home, the AmericanAirlines Arena, which is scheduled to open in December.

Citibank also said it would contribute $75,000 toward the establishment of the Heat Academy, an after-school education program for disadvantaged children in South Florida.

The announcement was made Tuesday in Miami by Pat Riley, head coach and president of the National Basketball Association team, and Patrick J. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Citibank Florida.

Citibank has been an aggressive user of sponsorships to boost its brand recognition outside New York, its base. Last year the bank sponsored the concert tour of rock star Elton John. In return, Mr. John appeared in television and print advertisements for the bank.

The bank has sponsored sports teams in the past, including a multiyear agreement with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s, a spokesman for the bank said.

Sponsorship of sports teams is not new to banks, consultants said.

Fleet Financial Group sponsors the New York Yankees baseball team. Boston-based Fleet has sought to build its brand image in New York since its acquisition of National Westminster Bancorp of Jersey City in 1996.

Bank One Corp. in Chicago sponsors the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League and major league baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

"The challenge for all banks is to make their brands more relevant to consumers," said Alan Adamson, a branding expert at Landor Associates, a New York consulting firm. "A lot of bank advertising and promotion is about themes like stability and conservativeness," he said.

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