As many of you will recall, back in 2008, then Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis agreed to buy Merrill Lynch. While it wasn't a Countrywide-level disaster of an acquisition (i.e. a bomb that's never stopped going off), it wasn't Lewis's best laid plan, which is why he actually tried to get out of the deal at the 11th hour, only to be told by former Fed Chair Hank Paulson that if he wanted to keep his legs, he'd go through with it. The merger didn't sit right with a large contingent of Merrill brokers, but they chose to go along with it for the greater good. Still, they made a solemn swear to each other that they'd fight even the smallest perceived slight to their brand and five plus years after the deal went through, they've kept their word.
A new tweak to Merrill Lynch advisers' business cards earlier this year was all it took to cause a stir among some brand loyalists among the firm's approximately 13,700 advisers. Several current and former Merrill Lynch brokers and industry recruiters pointed to two key changes: the shrinking of the iconic Merrill Lynch bull on the front of the cards and the addition of a red and blue strip at the bottom symbolizing Bank of America's two-tone flag.
“Not only are the colors of the bank's flag at the bottom (front) of the card, but the Merrill Lynch bull is getting smaller,” said one veteran Merrill Lynch adviser, who is based in New England and had been with the firm since before the Bank of America merger. “It's very uncomfortable."
So here's what. Unless BofA wants a load of unhappy Merrill brokers on its hands, someone will get on the horn with the printers and put in a rush job for new cards that includes a bull that:
1. Spans the height and width of the card
2. Is drawn with painstaking detail and is anatomically correct
3. Is triumphantly riding whatever the Bank of America mascot is (a flag?), across the card
If you need a sketch, someone can provide a mockup that was done on a cocktail napkin last night at the Blarney Stone while bitching about BofA brass.
Do Merrill Lynch's new business cards diss the brand? [Investment News via Matt]