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Rebranding in the banking industry following mergers and acquisitions

Mary Lambkin (Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Laurent Muzellec (Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 25 July 2008




This paper aims to examine how international banking groups manage their branding in the context of successive mergers and acquisitions. It seeks to review of a number of case histories in order to show that banking companies tend to evolve a multi‐tiered system for absorbing and rebranding acquisitions and it also seeks to present a general framework to guide future research and practice.


The banking industry has been undergoing major consolidation in recent years, with a number of global players emerging through successive mergers and acquisitions. These transactions vary in scale and location, from major mergers of large, equal‐sized international entities to acquisitions of smaller, local businesses in various countries all around the world. This paper brings together the literature on mergers and acquisitions, which mostly comes from economics and finance, with the marketing literature on branding and rebranding, to create a framework to help us to understand the management challenge of rebranding bank brands in this context. Citigroup and Crédit Agricole are used as a preliminary test of this framework.


This analysis suggests that the branding problem varies according to the size and international status of the acquisitive bank. Very large banks with international brands such as Citigroup tend to follow a branded house strategy where they impose their master brand on all acquisitions resulting in a further enhancement of scale and brand strength. However, this general strategy conceals a more complex, multi‐tiered approach with different types and sizes of acquisitions being rebranded in different ways. Regional players such as Crédit Agricole tend to opt for a house of brands strategy where their acquired companies retain their own name and brand franchise in local markets.

Research limitations/implications

The framework presented here is entirely new and requires further testing. The evidence supplied here is interesting but preliminary and requires further validation.

Practical implications

Most banking companies nowadays become involved in mergers and acquisitions at some stage, and face the task of realigning their brands in the aftermath of these transactions. This paper provides a systematic framework backed up by empirical evidence to help them to make these decisions.


The paper addresses a critically important strategic issue that has not been addressed in any detail in the marketing literature. The paper provides preliminary research evidence and a framework to suggest hypotheses for further research.



Lambkin, M. and Muzellec, L. (2008), "Rebranding in the banking industry following mergers and acquisitions", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 328-352.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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