Bank of…What’s in a Name?

Woman with laptop

After acquiring three community banks, preparing to merge our fourth institution and offering online banking on our new website, we had the difficult job of deciding whether or not to change our name. What’s in a name?

At the time, we were operating each bank under its historical name – Boston Bank of Commerce in Boston, Peoples National Bank of Commerce in Miami and Founders National Bank in Los Angeles. We just launched a new website with online banking. Because the fourth bank, Family Savings Bank, was located in Los Angeles, we questioned whether we should operate two banks in LA under different names.

Each bank had a long history of offering checking and savings accounts, home loans and business loans within our communities. Our customers were very loyal and had tremendous pride walking into “their bank”…and opening their first savings or checking account. Our branch staff knew our customers by name and always made them feel welcomed. To this day, the names Bank of Commerce, Peoples, Founders and Family evoke a strong sense of community. Even Unity Bank & Trust, which was opened during the civil rights movement and was the predecessor to Boston Bank of Commerce, continues to have a loyal following.

Our employees, who came to us from each institution, also felt their bank was the best bank. Our decision was compounded by geography (north, south and west) and competition (Celtics, Lakers or the Heat…Hmmm?). There is tremendous local pride.

So our decision to change our name was a difficult one. We understood the power of words. The benefits had to outweigh the loss of history and localism. (We also had to own the trademark, URL and other important technicalities.)

Ultimately, our decision and choice of OneUnited Bank was a reflection of our mission and love for the urban community we serve.

We know our community has a connection that is greater than geography. You can walk into one of our branches in Boston, Los Angeles or Miami and feel equally at home. You might even run into some one you know from another city…or learn that one of your relatives has been banking with us for years. You can use online banking and see your reflection. You will feel the pride that our customers felt when they opened their first bank account.

We also believe that – as a community – we cannot afford to be divided or limited by geography. The challenges we face are bigger than any one urban market can overcome. Any customer, supporter, community leader or business owner may have solutions that can serve another city. Any person, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion is welcomed and needed.

At the same time, we have to continue to live up to our name. We are focused on improving our community outreach by promoting financial literacy (see www.oneunited.com/book), savings and home loans (see www.oneunited.com/homeloan). Our actions reflect our choice of name by offering affordable financial services for all. OneUnited Bank is more than a name…it symbolizes our mission.

Teri Williams

Teri Williams is President and serves on the Board of Directors of OneUnited Bank. She is responsible for implementation of the Bank’s strategic initiatives, as well as the day to day operations of the bank. These operational areas include all retail branches, marketing, compliance, lending, information technology, customer support, legal, and human resources.

6 Comments
  • Patricia
    I think it's wonderful that this bank is growing and prospering, however, I just wanted to know with all these changes is the bank still "black-owned"?
    April 14, 2011 Reply
    • Yes. And importantly, our board of directors and the communities we serve are predominantly minority. We are a Minority Depository Institution that focuses on urban communities and community development.
      April 14, 2011 Reply
  • Lynn Doan
    I don't read a lot of the e-mails I get from my banks. But this one caught my eye. It was an interesting, and might I say very well-written, read. Thanks for that!
    April 14, 2011 Reply
  • Brenda Allen
    I have enjoyed banking with One United Bank for well over 15 years. It truly gives me a sense of pride when I am welcomed inside the banks here in Los Angeles. I do encourage my friends and family to switch over or at least open an account with One United Bank so that we can all be supportive of our efforts and community.Thanks for being One United.
    April 14, 2011 Reply
  • Adrienne
    I just would like to say that the name does say alot one bank for all people. I love my back have been a member since 2000, and never had an issue
    April 14, 2011 Reply
  • DR G. LANDRY
    I would like to thank One United Bank in Los Angeles, Ca. for all they do for our community. I enjoy going into my bank, the tellers greet me with respect and love. I truly appreaciate it. We only wish there were more One United Bank throughout California. Please keep it minority owned. THANKS.
    April 28, 2011 Reply

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