LOCAL IN-DEPTH: ‘Truist’ strikes out at SunTrust Park

Atlanta Braves fans want the venue’s name left as is
Isabelle Gordon, left, Hannah Berretta and Hannah Lagod pose in front of the SunTrust Park sign while they can. Photo: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

Isabelle Gordon, left, Hannah Berretta and Hannah Lagod pose in front of the SunTrust Park sign while they can. Photo: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves fans made the call a day after SunTrust and BB&T announced the new name of their combined venture.

A swing and a miss.

Atlanta-based SunTrust and North Carolina’s BB&T are merging to become Truist, they jointly announced on Wednesday. Rechristening the home of the Braves, who now play at SunTrust Park, might not take place until the end of next season.

Fans at Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh didn’t waste time in offering their opinions.

“Isn’t it awful?” Thad Woody said.


PAST COVERAGE: How SunTrust's philanthropy has made Atlanta a better place

Social media reaction has been swift and withering, with more than one wag resurrecting the specter of another infamous local rebrand:

"I don't think it's a great name for any company," said Nathan Arthur, a Columbus, Ohio native now living in the Cleveland area. He launched "Truist" as a blog back in the 1990s and operates the @Truist account on Twitter today.

“It’s not a name. It didn’t have a meaning,” he said. “It was just a thing nobody ever took.”

SunTrust and BB&T offer this explanation: “Truist is the first signal of our bold future together. It reflects a shared belief in building a better future for our clients and communities.”

But what is it, exactly? Penny Forsyth of Cordele, who was at her sixth Braves game of the season on Thursday, labored to understand.

“You look at ‘Sun,’ you know what that means. You look at ‘Trust,’ you know what that means,” she said. “You look at ‘Truist,’ what does that mean?”

A highly unscientific sampling of fans found most weren’t aware of the coming change. Many, like Isabelle Gordon, reacted with a startled, “What?”

She and her friends, Hannah Berretta and Hannah Lagod, enjoyed a pregame sally on a deck overlooking the giant SunTrust sign atop the big screen. Lagod said she knew the bank merger was coming (her brother works in the industry) but the new name was a surprise. None were excited about the prospect of “Truist Field” or some such.

“I’m used to SunTrust Park,” Gordon said.

The venue is a hit with fans, making Ballpark Digest’s 2018 and 2019 best-of lists, after its “smash success in a 2017 debut.”

SunTrust itself enjoys lots of love, too, earning accolades from J.D. Power and community goodwill over the years. SunTrust and the SunTrust Foundation provided $4.5 million in contributions last year in Atlanta, to say nothing of individual employees' efforts. Remember when a chunk of I-85 caught fire and crashed to the ground on March 30, 2017? SunTrust sent a team of volunteers the very next day to ensure Open Hand, a charity located near the disaster site, would be able to prepare and deliver meals to its ill and elderly clients.

BB&T also has a strong history of civic support. After Hurricane Florence ravaged North Carolina last year, the BB&T Charitable Fund announced it would distribute $1.5 million in grants to agencies including the American Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse. Its Atlanta presence includes the BB&T Atlanta Open, happening July 20-28 at Atlantic Station. That event benefits the Giving Kitchen and the Georgia Tennis Foundation.

SunTrust and BB&T worked together to come up with “Truist.” A video titled “Making of the Brand,” details the collaborative brainstorming process and features employees from both institutions talking about how excited they are to create the new brand.

“Truist is about always looking forward and building a better future,” a joint statement says. “Truist is about standing for better.”

The moniker builds on “Trust,” which is part of both banks’ name now (BB&T stands for Branch Banking and Trust). But it appears it’s not actually a word. (There’s truism, and altruist but no definition for just truist.)

“I don’t like the name,” said Demetria Barlow, who was at Thursday’s game with her son, Brandon Zorn, 3, and nephews Octavius Porter, 9, and Thaddeus Williams, 7.

She would have preferred the Atlanta Braves stay put at Turner Field, and didn’t think much of another name change.

“On a scale of 1 to 10,” she said, “it’s a 1 for me.”

Georgia State University Marketing Department Chairman Naveen Donthu rendered a more hopeful assessment.

“It does not sound like a typical bank name,” he said. “My conclusion is, it’s a little odd, it’s a little different. It’s a little bold, but it might work.”

Contributing: Erin Schilling

Demetria Barlow with her nephews Octavius Porter and Thaddeus Williams, left and her son Brandon Zorn. She's not impressed with the "Truist" name. Photo: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

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