Other Versions of New Name Were Rejected Over the Years

NationsBank, the moniker for the institution that will be formed when NCNB Corp. merges with C&S/Sovran Corp., was a decade in the making.

NCNB officials first considered the word "nation" in early 1982, when they were poring over hundreds of name components in an effort to devise a name for a newly purchased Florida subsidiary. It got tossed.

One reason, speculated Joseph B. Martin, a corporate affairs executive at NCNB, may have been that the then $10 billion-asset company figured any name with "nation" was audacious even by its own audacious standards.

"People in Lake City, Fla., would have laughed," he said.

FDIC Rule Barred Name Change

NCNB again was shopping for a subsidiary name in 1988 when it acquired the failed First RepublicBank Corp. franchise. Dallas-based consultant Lee Ballard presented "Nations" as a potential name component.

The project got scrapped. Pinned down by a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. proviso that the winning bidder had to paste its own name on the federally assisted First Republic, the company opted for NCNB Texas National Bank.

Later contemplating the nationwide publicity surrounding the Texas transaction, and the increasingly restrictive North Carolina connotations of the parent company's name, NCNB officials realized they had missed a window of opportunity for a company-wide name change.

Estimating at least 18 months of preparation would be needed to implement a new name, NCNB got right to work developing one. The goal was to be ready the next time a publicity-generating merger was announced.

Toying with Mr. Ballard's "Nations," NCNB officers spontaneously combined it with "Bank," arriving at what soon will be the company's new name, "NationsBank."

Testing in the Field Positive

After securing legal rights to the name, NCNB conducted market tests at shopping malls scattered across the country.

Encouraged by public feedback, NCNB in 1990 christened its Delaware credit card subsidiary with the new name.

This permitted an expanded test of NationsBank in a competitive but relatively low-pressure environment. "That helped us flush out any potential opposition," said Mr. Martin.

The big launch opportunity came when NCNB won agreement from C&S/Sovran to introduce NationsBank at the July 22 press conference announcing the merger.

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