HSBC dismisses rebrand to Midland or First Direct, instead adding ‘UK’ to name

The HSBC brand will not be disappearing from the high street any time soon as the bank opts to make a small change to its name, adding “UK” to the retail bank brand, rather than going for a more drastic rebrand by reviving Midland or taking its online brand First Direct offline.

HSBC revealed in June that it was looking to change the name of its branch network in preparation for industry reforms that would see its high street banks separated from its global operations. Speculation at the time suggested that it could opt for a bold rebrand.

In the end, however, HSBC went for a less drastic option.

“It soon became obvious that everyone preferred a name that maintains a strong connection to HSBC and a clear commitment to the UK,” says chief executive Stuart Gulliver.

“Our ambition is to be the bank of choice in the UK and as a name, HSBC UK will build on the global connectivity and customer trust of the HSBC brand and differentiate us in a competitive market.”

The decision to rebrand was met with surprise at the time despite poor consumer perceptions of the brand. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex HSBC sits at or near the bottom of a list of 28 high street banking brands across a range of metrics, ahead of only Royal Bank of Scotland.

It has come under attack from various directions, including over allegations that its Swiss arm helped wealthy clients evade tax, and was hit by multimillion pound fines for mis-selling retail products and Libor rate-fixing.

Nevertheless HSBC has invested heavily in marketing to rebuild the brand. HSBC was also seen as having a stronger brand than Midland, which disappeared from the high street more than 20 years ago and was unlikely to resonate with anyone under the age of 30.

It remains unclear whether the HSBC logo will remain the same. The new name will be rolled out across the UK from 2018.

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