KeyCorp is marketing itself to corporate finance customers by dropping its name from its ads.
In a national print advertising campaign launched last week, the banking company is featuring its skeleton-key logo followed by the words "investment banking."
The reader is expected to identify the company from the symbol; the company name appears only in very fine print.
"It's part of an overall brand strategy" to let businesses know KeyCorp can do more than just lend money, said J. Lennard Barker, a senior vice president of marketing with KeyCorp.
The Cleveland-based company has spent the last two years building customer familiarity with its logo by putting it next to the bank's name in print ads. The logo replaced the bank's name in local advertisements aimed at retail customers last fall.
But the latest ad, which will run for the next few months in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, and the magazine CFO, is KeyCorp's first attempt to target corporate finance customers using this method.
The bank's marketing executives say the logo will be used alone in corporate finance ads from now on.
KeyCorp won Federal Reserve approval in September to underwrite corporate equity and debt issues. The ad running now is intended to draw attention to these new powers.
The rest of the ad campaign, created by the Lord Group, a New York-based subsidiary of Young & Rubicam, will describe specific corporate finance packages arranged by KeyBank's investment banking unit.
Emphasizing a logo rather than a bank name is good in theory, said Alan Bergstrom, president of the Atlanta-based Brand Consultancy, but he is not convinced it will work in this case.
The key logo is mean to convey security and "unlocking financial resources," said Mr. Bergstrom, whose company advises banks and other institutions-not including KeyCorp-on building brand identity.
But he expressed doubt that customers will form an emotional identification with it.
And though downplaying the name distances an institution from old- fashioned notions about banks, Mr. Bergstrom said, "bank" does not have the same narrow connotation it did just a few years ago.
So many commercial banks are offering stock trading and insurance that many retail customers have adjusted to the idea of a bank as a full-service financial institution, he said.
Still, corporate finance customers may have a more entrenched conception of banks, Mr. Bergstrom said.
"They've had a lot more experience dealing with nonbanking entities," he said, "and it may be a little more difficult getting them to accept the idea that Key is the place to go."