Feb. 17--The Savannah Bank will no longer carry the moniker of its namesake city, part of a rebranding overhaul by its South Carolina-based parent company, First Financial Holdings Inc.
Announcing the changes Monday, First Financial Holdings said it will rebrand The Savannah Bank and its four other banking divisions as South State Bank.
"It's important to know it's the same bank and same bankers, just a different logo and name out front," said John Helmken, CEO of The Savannah Bank and regional president of Savannah.
Helmken said new signage would be rolled out in mid-July and the impact on customers would be minimal. Customers can still use their checks and debit cards bearing The Savannah Bank's name, he added.
"I think it's a huge positive for our customers," said Holden Hayes, president of The Savannah Bank. "This allows customers in Savannah to have access to the network of all the banks underneath the company."
Those banks include First Federal in Charleston, Community Bank & Trust (CBT) in Northeast Georgia, North Carolina Bank and Trust (NCBT) in Charlotte and South Carolina Bank and Trust (SCBT) with locations throughout the Palmetto State. All divisions will transition to the South State Bank name this summer, according to a press release.
With a uniform name, Helmken said, customers would no longer be confused by which banks and ATMs to use within their southeastern footprint.
First Financial's name will also be changed to South State Corporation, subject to shareholder approval at a meeting this April.
Founded 23 years ago, The Savannah Bank was purchased by SCBT in August 2012. In July of last year, SCBT merged with First Financial Holdings Inc., but left intact its various subsidiaries' names.
In addition to its banking divisions, First Financial also operates investment firms Minis & Co., First Southeast 401k Fiduciaries and First Southeast Investor Services.
The rebranding reflects First Financial's southeast expansion, according to its CEO Robert Hill Jr., which includes 138 locations spread across South Carolina, North Carolina and 12 counties in Georgia.
"Our new name reflects the strength and stability we've had for years and clearly positions us to continue building the best regional bank in the Southeast," said Hill in a statement.
Employees of the holding company's banks gathered in Columbia, S.C., for the unveiling of the new name. The logo features a simple blue serif font with a gold "S" above the name.
Hayes, speaking from Columbia, said the focus of The Savannah Bank will not change.
"It's still business as usual," said Hayes. "We're still the same folks with the same commitment to community banking."
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