decommissioned facility

Navigating the Brand Decommissioning Process for Financial Institutions

Develop a Plan to Address Ongoing Slate of Bank Branch Closures

When a financial institution goes through a rebranding due to a merger, acquisition, strategic shift, or location closure, it’s not just about launching a new visual identity or simply locking the doors. Just as critical is the process of retiring and decommissioning the old brand elements across all customer touchpoints. This decommissioning process requires careful planning and execution to ensure compliance, maintain customer trust, and protect brand equity.

Developing a process is certainly needed in the current environment. In 2023, major banks closed more than 500 branches. A record number of banks closed locations in 2021 and the pace has slowed only slightly since. One out of every five bank locations has closed since 2009. In 2024, it’s more of the same as 220 bank branches have closed in the U.S. in the first two months of the year, according to figures from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

The decommissioning process for banks and other financial institutions involves a litany of tasks and obligations. To best navigate this process, developing a plan and working with an expert partner in the space is recommended. Let’s dive in.

Outlining the Decommissioning Process for Finance Institutions

Decommissioning brand assets for financial institutions involves a structured process to remove, archive, or repurpose branding materials and assets. Given the highly regulated nature of financial services, this process must be handled with particular care to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, protect the institution’s reputation, and maintain customer trust. Working with a signage solutions provider with comprehensive manufacturing and program management capabilities ensures all aspects of the process go according to plan—with every detail accounted for.

Conduct a Comprehensive Brand Asset Inventory

The first step is to gain full visibility into all the physical and digital brand assets that will need to be updated or replaced. This includes outdoor signage, branch/ATM branding, onsite graphical elements, and more. A thorough inventory enables prioritization and developing a phased plan.

Ensure Legal and Regulatory Compliance

The financial sector has stringent branding and marketing communication regulations. The decommissioning process must be carried out in full compliance with disclosure rules, trademark laws, and other relevant guidelines. Involving legal counsel from the start is critical.

Develop a Clear Customer Communication Plan

Branch closures can be unsettling for customers if not handled properly. A proactive, transparent communication plan helps address concerns and maintain trust. Explain the rationale, timeline, and what customers can expect through public channels, direct mail, branch messaging, and one-on-one outreach.

Prioritize Customer-Facing Touchpoints First

Focus initial decommissioning efforts on the most visible, customer-facing assets like outdoor signage and branch/ATM branding. A phased rollout using transitional branding can smooth the experience before the full new brand is implemented.

Don’t Forget the Backend Systems

Beyond customer touchpoints, remember to update internal systems, processes, and documentation to reflect the new branding. An enterprise-wide impact assessment ensures no asset is overlooked.

Plan for Sustainable Asset Disposal

As old assets are decommissioned, have an environmentally-responsible disposal and recycling plan that also addresses confidentiality concerns for materials containing the old brand identity.

Monitor and Adapt as Needed

The road to successful decommissioning rarely follows a perfectly linear path. Have mechanisms to continuously monitor feedback, identify gaps, and adapt the decommissioning plan as the situation evolves.

Streamline Your Decommissioning Process with Stratus

At Stratus, we partner with financial brands across the country for both facility decommissioning services as well as refresh & remodel capabilities and new location planning. Our broad suite of capabilities means we’re able to assist with everything from interior and exterior signage to light and major remodeling, as well as enhanced energy management. Additionally, our preventive maintenance offerings keep signage systems and facilities operating at peak performance, adding deep value for tenants and their customers. With experienced project managers acting as a single point of contact to keep communication constant and concise, your decommission project will stay on track.

Let’s Get Started

Would you like to learn more about our decommissioning process and how we can support all your brand implementation goals? Connect with us today for a no-strings-attached consultation.