NJ Star Ledger

March 20, 2008

TD Bank puts its stamp on Commerce

Commerce Bancorp will undergo a multi-million dollar rebranding campaign under the ownership of Toronto-based TD Bank Financial Group, with the name TD Commerce Bank going up at all U.S. branches of both banks.

But some branding experts have one question about the new name: Why?

"My instant reaction is there is absolutely no benefit from a marketing point of view to do that," said Al Ries, chairman of the Georgia-based branding consultancy Ries & Ries. "They're not looking at it from the point of view of the consumer. They're looking at it as TD, that's our corporate name, let's put it on everything we own."

Last week, TD Bank said it received the necessary regulatory approvals for its acquisition of Commerce, adding it expected to close the deal in the next few weeks.

TD Bank -- TD stands for Toronto-Dominion -- previously acquired online brokerage Ameritrade and renamed it TD Ameritrade; the company did the same thing with Banknorth.

TD executives said extensive customer and market research guided the banks' decision to leverage the financial strength of TD and Commerce's focus on superior customer service to create the new brand.

"TD Commerce Bank will own the convenience and customer service space from Maine to Florida," TD Banknorth Chief Executive Bharat Masrani said in a statement. "We will be relentlessly focused on building a better bank for customers by staying open longer than our competitors and providing customers with the ... experience they have come to expect."

TD Commerce Bank will retain the Commerce Bank slogan as "America's Most Convenient Bank."

"Commerce Bank customers can continue to count on seven-day banking with the same great hours, legendary service from the same great employees and our popular conveniences including penny arcades and treats for kids and dogs," said Dennis DiFlorio, chairman of Cherry Hill-based Commerce.

TD Banknorth customers can expect longer hours and a wider range of ATMs from Maine to Florida.

Starting April 10, customers of both banks can access their cash without incurring fees at any of the companies' combined 2,700 ATMs in the United States and more than 2,500 ATMs at TD Canada Trust locations throughout Canada.

Steve Manning, chief executive of the naming and branding firm Igor in San Francisco, said putting TD in the bank's name may let the investment community know TD Bank Financial Group owns Commerce. But it doesn't really help consumers.

"From a consumer point of view, it doesn't mean anything," Manning said. "There's really nothing to be gained from having an unnecessarily long and complicated name."

In the next few months, the company's 1,100-branch network will begin a comprehensive exterior and interior re-branding effort to TD Commerce Bank. Current Commerce Bank branches will be the first to re-brand this year, with current TD Banknorth stores expected to be fully re-branded sometime in 2009.