Motoring along Sawtelle Boulevard in Los Angeles last weekend, on the one day I didn't have my camera with me, I glimpsed a sign that appeared to read "TomatoBank." Say what? If I'd been behind the wheel, I would have screeched to a halt to investigate, but I wasn't, and I couldn't, and I didn't. Still, I couldn't get that sign out of my mind. Several years ago I'd labored on a naming project for a Bay Area bank. We thought we'd explored every possible direction--geography, history, commerce--but somehow we'd just plum overlooked produce. Why not TomatoBank?
That's exactly what the L.A. bank's chairman and CEO, Dr. Stephen Liu, asked himself, as I discovered when I did some online research. The bank was founded six years ago as InterBusiness Bank, which Dr. Liu rightly found generic and boring. So last year he changed the bank's name to TomatoBank, N.A. "Why TomatoBank? Why not?" Dr. Liu asked rhetorically in a press release. "It is an attractive brand name that brings to mind images of growth, multi-culture and health, all characteristics that represent who we are and what we strive to achieve. But most importantly, it is a brand that is recognizable and hard to forget. If there can be an Apple Computer - why not a Tomatobank? Try to forget it. You can't!"
You know, he's right. Besides, according to an article in American Banker magazine, "the word 'tomato' resonates with Asian-American customers, because banks in Asia are often named after fruit, vegetables, or flowers grown in their region, and Asian-Americans particularly love tomatoes."
And I think the whole concept is fruitful. Why not a CarrotBank that offers appetizing incentives (unlike those mean old StickBanks)? Or a SpinachBank, where your long green can flourish?
Meanwhile, I want one of those red TomatoBank Visa cards. Tasty!