TheStreet: “Morgan Stanley Mulls Smith Barney’less Future”

Morgan Stanley is thinking of getting rid of the Smith Barney brand, made famous by actor John Houseman (pictured) delivering the famous tag line: “We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.”

Is it a good idea for Morgan Stanley to get rid of a brand that’s familiar to customers and clients and has its own cache? “Smith Barney is a classic brand,” says Paul Kurnit, a marketing professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “But, it is quaint, not current, charming, not forward edge….Likely, if it goes away, it will not be terribly missed.”

Why are some bank brands kept while others are gone?  Bear Stearns vanished quickly when taken over by JPMorgan Chase, IndyMac became OneWest, but Bank of America incorporated the Merrill and U.S. Trust brands into its own. Travelers not only kept its name when spinning out from Citi, but paid big for the little umbrella symbol. 

TheStreet polls marketing experts such as Lubin’s Paul Kurnit as to whether it is a good idea for Morgan Stanley to get rid of the Smith Barney brand.