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Opinion

baml.com: What’s in a name?

Journalists and clients are breathing a sigh of relief that Bank of America Merrill Lynch has changed its email format to the much simpler baml.com from bofasecurities.com. Everyone agrees the full name of the firm is still too long, though. Whether or not the world will be forced to call the merged entity its two names for ever is uncertain, but Jeffry Pilcher, a financial naming consultant, says it could be worse. "It’s harder to say the two names than it is to write them, but that happens a lot with merged companies that want to retain the two brands. JPMorgan Chase is a pretty bad mash-up too."

Pilcher says you have to be careful. One of Canada’s largest credit unions changed its name to Sunova in 2008 – to make the organization "appear a little brighter". Although assets have boomed since the change, onlookers point out that unfortunately it is a little too close to "son of a....". Credit unions often make the most bizarre name choices, says Pilcher. "Some are just detrimental, such as NSF Union, given that NSF means non-sufficient funds in finance terms," he says. Others send giggles around the more puerile of us. Of particular note are Leatherstocking Union, Climax Union and Village People’s Union. "There’s something about names that brings out the juvenile in us all. People love to sneer, but it’s better to have a name that draws snickers than something insufferably bland or boring," says Pilcher.

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