The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

This was something I was wondering about the past two years. As part of the remaining re-branding efforts following its 2001 merger, banking giant Wachovia will finally be changing the name on Philadelphia's First Union Center.

Lord knows why it took these guys over two freakin' years to finally shed the First Union name. I mean, they were so anxious to get rid of it after they bought Wachovia. In a move that will forever confuse people, First Union bought Wachovia and then adopted the acquired company's name. Naturally, on the surface, one would assume that it was Wachovia that bought First Union, since Wachovia is the name that survived the merger. But no, First Union was the buyer, and it decided to assume its prey's identity (I think the acknowledged reason, different from the spun official one, is that First Union became so infamous for its shoddy customer service throughout the 90s, that it was eager to take on a new, "cleaner" name). I'd have to say, though, that stop-and-start approach points to a case study on how not to re-brand.

In any case, after the deal went through, I'd always think about it whenever I watched a hockey game broadcast from Philly. Often, I'd wonder if ESPN and/or its announcers didn't simply mess up and use the old name, only to discover that the holdup was from the bank's end.