By Joshua Ishmael
SVP and General Counsel
Most people know us as INB, but until recently, our official name was Illinois National Bank. Today, our name is “INB, National Association.” But you can still call us “INB.”
What’s with the ‘National Association’?
Section 30 of the National Bank Act (12 U.S.C. 30) states that a national bank can change its name so long as the new name includes the word “national.” While “national” was part of the name “Illinois National Bank,” in legal contracts, we used a more formal title: Illinois National Bank, a National Banking Association. In a nutshell, our official title was followed by the organizing nature of the institution. Banks are not corporations, but rather, associations formed under state or federal charters granted by state agencies (for state banks) or the U.S. Department of Treasury under the authority granted by the United States Congress (for national banks). In our move to the name “INB,” our leadership team decided to use this same legal structure we used in our old, formal name to satisfy the “national” requirement. That’s how we chose “INB” followed by our organizing nature, “National Association.” Put together, that’s “INB, National Association.”
We presented the new name to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (our federal regulator and known to us banking folk simply as the “OCC”), and the new usage of “national” became a part of our official title with the OCC’s approval. This is significant because the official title, in its entirety, must be present in legal situations. These legal documents include contracts, agreements, loan documents, government forms, vendor applications or anything where a legal relationship exists.
In Most Instances, INB Works Fine
We’re not the only national bank using this naming configuration. U.S. Bank and Bank of America have “National Association” in their official names registered with the OCC, but use the shorthand version of their names as a trade name. They simply drop “National Association” completely or use the shorthand version, N.A.
A trade name is a name used by a business for public purposes, often thought of as a “brand.” It’s the name the most people use when referring to the actual entity like “McDonald’s” rather than “McDonald’s Corporation,” for example. Trade names can be used in marketing materials without further registration. Conversely, trade names cannot be substitutes for the complete, legal name of the bank when a legal component exists.
General Rule of Thumb: If you see an INB contract or application, you’ll see our full name, “INB, National Association.” When we want to identify ourselves in a formal way yet there’s no legal relationship, you’ll see INB, N.A. But most of the time, you’ll just see “INB” or our INB logo.
Even with a shortened name, we won’t forget our roots. INB President and CEO Sarah Phalen explains: “The name Illinois National Bank was important to us when we formed the bank in 1999 because many of us were from the original Illinois National Bank that was founded in the 1800s. The name allowed those of us who had worked for Illinois National Bank to show our excitement about bringing community banking back to Central Illinois. We knew taking the name required us to work extra hard to live up to the reputation of community banking at its best. And our commitment doesn’t change even though our name officially does.”