MOUNT VERNON – First-Knox National Bank will soon assume the name of its parent company, Park National Bank, according to president Bob Boss.
All 12 of Park National Bank’s community banking divisions – including First-Knox, Richland Bank and Century National Bank in north central Ohio – will undergo the branding transition in 2020, he said, in an effort to streamline services and allow for technological improvement.
“It is a name change really because of technology,” Boss told Knox Pages. “We have 12 mobile apps, 12 websites, 12 advertising campaigns – you know, it just doesn’t work to do it 12 times. So really, that’s the motivation behind it.”
First-Knox has operated under the same title since it opened in Knox County in 1847. When it was bought by Newark-based Park National Bank in 1997, it retained its original name.
Park National Bank has 120 branches and 135 ATMs across Ohio, Kentucky and the Carolinas. The company has been in operation for over a century, according to its website.
Boss said Park National Bank began discussing a potential re-brand for all 12 of its banking divisions 15 months ago, and he was involved in the decision-making process every step of the way. First-Knox considered local feedback as well, as the bank mailed questionnaires to customers in recent months.
“It’s not like this is something that came down from Park that said, ‘You’re going to do this,’” Boss said. “With First-Knox having a 66-percent market share in Knox County and having been around since 1847, this is something we wanted to make sure we did right.”
One of the things that surprised First-Knox during the feedback process, Boss said, was how few customers knew about the bank’s local partnerships.
“So many people didn’t realize we were part of Park, and there were 12 different affiliates and they could use their debit cards at so many more locations that they weren’t aware of," Boss said.
Park National believes aligning each community banking division under the same name will create a more consistent customer experience. It will also allow for internal growth.
“Changing our name now positions our bank for smart, steady growth, with expanded resources to better serve our customers, today and in the future,” the company said in a statement. “As we’ve grown, the benefit of having individual brand names became outweighed by the need to deliver a truly consistent customer experience and more clear communication.”
Staffing and services at First-Knox will not change during the transition, Boss said. Only the name and logo will change.
“We’re going to have the same people doing the same things, serving their customers as they have before,” Park National Bank Chairman and CEO David Troutman said in a video on the bank’s website. “[The purpose is to] unify the brand message: ‘We want to serve people more,’ and unify under one uniform. One name, one logo, one store.”
First-Knox, based in Mount Vernon, has 10 branches across Knox, Richland, Ashland and Morrow counties. The bank invested over $450,000 in the region in 2018, according to its website, and traditionally sponsors a variety of local events, such as the Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival and Relay for Life.
Boss said the bank’s local involvement will not change after the rebrand, as First-Knox will maintain its current local leadership.
“One of the questions I’ve been getting asked is, we’re so big in community involvement and what we contribute to the community, will that change? And that absolutely will not change,” Boss said. “Those are my decisions and my authorities don’t change at all.”
Customers’ account numbers, account types, account features, routing numbers, and statement cycles will not be affected by the rebrand, Boss said. Any automatic withdrawals or automatic deposits currently set up will still go through.
The bank’s website and URL will change in the coming months, but customers’ online banking information (including username and password) will not. All bill setups will remain in place.
“For our customers, there’s really no change,” Boss said. “Their account numbers won’t change, their checks still work, their debit cards still work – everything still works, it’s just that when they get new cards or checks, they will say Park National Bank.”
What will change is the bank’s appearance. First-Knox will change its name and logo on sponsor boards and buildings in 2020, Boss said. It will likely take six to nine months to complete the transition.
“It’s a big undertaking to do all that…” Boss said.”We just wanted to make it so everyone knows that it’s gonna be a long process, but we wanted to get it out in the public’s hands now.”
Boss also anticipates technological upgrades in the coming year. The rebrand will allow Park National to become more efficient and organized.
“We can do things better on the technology side because you’re only doing it one time, instead of 12 times…” Boss said. “I think our website will be much improved, I think our apps will be improved, our mortgage applications online will be improved. So our technology will really improve.”
While Boss spoke candidly about the name change – “everyone, including me, is not excited that the First-Knox name is going away” – he added that the rebrand is necessary for future growth.
“It’s something that we need to do,” Boss said. “To get better, you have to change, and change is inevitable. It’s what we need to do.”
Boss said community feedback has been largely positive over the last three weeks, when he has spent time talking to customers about the company’s plan. The people, services and purpose of the organization won’t change, he emphasized: just the name.