State Bank & Trust in Fargo, N.D., is changing its name to avoid confusion with the dozens of banks in its markets that have similar names.

The $2.2 billion-asset bank announced on its website Tuesday that it is renaming itself Bell State Bank and that it will begin changing the name on its signs, letterhead, legal documents and marketing materials later this year.

The company said it chose the Bell name because it is also the name of a leading Minneapolis-area mortgage lender it acquired last year. Bell Mortgage has 28 offices in the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Phoenix markets and has strong brand recognition in a region where State Bank & Trust is eager to expand, President Michael Solberg said in the announcement.

"Bell State Bank is easy to spell, say and remember, and Bell is a name that is well recognized and respected in the Twin Cities market, where we expect to see significant growth in the coming years," Solberg said.

The bank also noted that there are no other banks in the country called "Bell Bank." In the three states where the bank operates — the Dakotas and Minnesota — there are at least 150 banks with the word "state" in their names, Solberg said.

The 46-year-old bank expects to complete its conversion to Bell State Bank by the end of next year's first quarter.

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