The closing Friday of Deutsche Bank AG's $9 billion acquisition of Bankers Trust Corp. marks the elimination of yet another name from U.S. banking.
Bankers Trust, a 96-year-old moniker, has all but disappeared under the new Deutsche Bank brand umbrella as the $821 billion-asset company defines itself as a single commercial, retail, and wholesale bank.
"We want to go to market on a global basis, and Deutsche Bank is the stronger brand," said Alexander Labak, divisional board member and head of marketing and communications at the company's headquarters in Frankfurt.
Deutsche Bank will become the single brand for the combined company's operations, effective immediately, Mr. Labak said.
A major advertising campaign is planned for the fall to promote the new brand, coinciding with Deutsche Bank's listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Deutsche Bank's bold branding strategy, after London-based HSBC Group's decision to drop local U.S. subsidiary names like Marine Midland Bank in favor of one global brand, signals a trend among foreign companies, branding consultants said.
"Foreign banks are starting to be bolder and more confident about breaking into the U.S. under their own brands," said James Cerutti, a consultant at Future Brand in New York. "We will see others follow."
Many consultants said the success of a global brand identity requires the elimination of multiple brands. "Ultimately you have to go with one brand and it has to be global," said Alan Adamson, a consultant at Landor Associates.
"We really want to be a global, integrated company and to do that we need one brand," Mr. Labak said.
In Deutsche Bank's case, the decision may have been easier than in others.
The Bankers Trust name, long associated with a venerable institution catering to the needs of corporations and wealthy people, was tarnished in a series of scandals starting in the mid-1990s. In a final blow, Bankers Trust pleaded guilty to a felony in U.S. District Court this March for misappropriation of client funds.
However, Alex. Brown, the name of Bankers Trust's securities unit, will continue to exist.
Rolf E. Breuer, chairman of Deutsche Bank, acknowledged the legacy of 200-year-old Alex. Brown in a statement Friday. "Some acquired brands display significant brand equity which needs to be actively managed," he said.
At the combined company, U.S. investment banking and equity businesses will have the name Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. Fixed income operations, known at Deutsche Bank as global markets, will have the choice of whether to include Alex. Brown as a brand in their marketing materials.
Consultants said in Alex. Brown's case, Deutsche Bank appears to be taking a cue from U.S. banks that have acquired investment banking boutiques in recent years, including BankBoston Corp. and First Union Corp. In most cases, those banks have used a combination of names to retain the investment banks' identities.
"Those banks know that it will take a while for institutional clients to perceive commercial banks as competent" in investment banking," Mr. Cerutti said.
Private banking in the U.S. will be known as Bankers Trust Private Banking.
Mr. Labak said there is no urgency to eliminate either the Alex. Brown or Bankers Trust names because a period of transition is necessary for Deutsche Bank to build its name recognition in the United States.
Bankers Trust will also be the identity of wholesale payments and trust activities "for a defined transition period," the bank said.
The last vestiges of Morgan Grenfell, a London investment bank acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1989, have also vanished in favor of Deutsche Asset Management.
Memorandums on the changes have been circulated at Bankers Trust over the last few days, though some employees still stumbled over the Deutsche Bank name when answering the telephone Friday. "As the business comes together, the brand issues will go away," Mr. Labak said.