I have certainly seen this before. Back in the 1990s when I was living in Madrid, I saw Banco Santander merge with —or rather acquire— first Banesto then Banco Central Hispano (itself the product of a prior merger) to become Santander Central Hispano. That didn’t last long, and Santander’s strong brand ended up obliterating any trace of the merged entities.
Now Mr Botín is at it again. It was not long ago that Santander acquired Abbey National, then proceeded to snap up Bradford and Bingley Building Society in the credit crunch sales. For a while, the smaller fish retained their names after being eaten, albeit with strong Santader-themed style. Not for much longer. This week the corporate overlords started a re-branding exercise for all 1,504 branches across the UK that will see the name “Santander” displayed all over British High Streets.
The advertising campaign features the Formula One World Champion 2008 Lewis Hamilton, building big signs with messages such as “Hello” and “No fees” using Santander-red building blocks, part of the introduction to the new brand.