It never ranked with the once-mighty Celtics as an object of city pride, but State Street Boston Corp. has long been an institution in Beantown. After all, it has been in business there for two centuries.
But now, to convey a more global image, the banking company has dropped "Boston" from its name; it is now calling itself State Street Corp. (The matter will come up for a shareholder vote April 16.)
Now, having "Boston" in the name probably hasn't hurt Bank of Boston Corp., which operates in 23 countries worldwide, or even Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., the New York brokerage. And Boston Chicken seems to be doing well. (The rapidly expanding fast-food chain is actually based in Golden, Colo.)
But State Street (whose headquarters, by the way, is on Franklin Street) is a player in the world of global finance, with $3 trillion of assets under management and clients in 77 countries. So it doesn't want to be associated with any one city.
State Street spent two years researching its brand recognition, said John Elkins, president of Diefenbach Elkins, the New York firm that retooled State Street's image. The makeover also included a redesign of the clipper ship logo and the addition of the slogan "Serving Institutional Investors Worldwide."
"State Street's new brand will help take the company far beyond its traditional reputation as the leading custody bank," Mr. Elkins said in a press release announcing the changes.
Though growing community and regional banks have long sought to dump geographic references, banks with vast global presence may benefit little from a name change, said an advertising observer.
"When you look at Deutsche Bank, First Boston, and Credit Suisse, they're all powerful multinationals that have not suffered from regional association," said Jeff DeJoseph, executive vice president and director of brand planning and communication at J. Walter Thompson, the New York advertising agency. "If you've got a strong institution with a track record of success, to tinker with your name if it's not inhibiting is a superficial solution."
But a public relations consultant who has worked with State Street said its dropping "Boston" is overdue."I do think 'Boston' is kind of outdated," said the consultant, who asked not to be named. "It makes it sound local or regional."