NationsBank Corp. plans to spend $9 million over the next month to change the name on everything from its Maryland branches and automated telling machines to stationery and business cards.
The company is dumping the NationsBank name for Bank of America, with which it merged nearly a year ago.
By Aug. 30, 205 branches and 516 ATMs in Maryland will have been shorn of the NationsBank name for Bank of America as part of a sweeping conversion in the mid-Atlantic region.
Included in the conversion are 111 branches and 318 ATMs in the Baltimore area.
"What we are hoping to communicate effectively is this is merely a name change," said William Couper, president of NationsBank in greater Baltimore. "It doesn't change their [customers'] account numbers, their checks or their plastic cards," Couper said. "It is purely a name change."
Couper's title will change, too. He will become president of Bank of America in greater Baltimore. In addition, the company's 100 S. Charles St. headquarters will get two new 8-foot-high aluminum and plastic signs on the 18th story that will light up at night.
NationsBank of Charlotte, N.C., merged with San Francisco-based BankAmerica Corp. in October to create the first coast-to-coast banking company in a $38 billion deal. The bank is now headquartered in Charlotte, with NationsBank Chief Executive Officer Hugh McColl in command.
Bank of America has 45,000 branches in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and $614 billion in assets, making it the largest in the country.
The changeover, which the company is billing as the biggest ever in corporate America, began in Texas and New Mexico in April. It will continue through the end of 2000 when California converts.
Bank of America's overall merger budget totals $750 million. It includes making bank procedures uniform across the system.
Jon Holtaway, a banking analyst at Danielson Associates Inc., a Rockville-based bank-consulting firm, said the company has little choice but to invest the money because it wants to use a single "brand name" to market itself.
"They now have a large market share and 20 of the largest urban markets in the country," he said. "With that kind of breadth, they can use national television advertising, Internet-based advertising and direct mail."
The risk, however, is confusing customers who might think that NationsBank has been taken over and the way they bank is about to change.
"It is a must for them to do," Holtaway said. "The sooner they do it, the sooner they are ready to move forward."