[caption id="attachment_50847" align="alignright" width="314" caption="Same name, new logo"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Sonoma Bank and Sterling Savings Bank, both subsidiaries of Spokane, Wash.-based Sterling Financial Corp., have begun rolling out extensive rebranding designed to help solidify Sterling’s one-brand model.

As of March 5, Sterling Savings Bank became simply Sterling Bank, according to a spokeswoman. Sonoma Bank's name will remain the same, but it and Sterling Bank will now share the same logo. Web sites and marketing materials already reflect the change, and new signage is expected to be implemented by the end of 2012 and start with major metro areas, said Cara Coon.

The rebranding effort is the first in Sterling’s 29 years and developed over 12 to 18 months, she said.

“You can’t go through something that Sterling’s been through, and not be changed. We wanted to reflect that,” she said.

Sterling was among banks hit hard by the recession, mandated under order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Washington Department of Financial institutions to strengthen its capital position following a cease-and-desist-order in 2009. That order was lifted in September 2010 after a $730 million recapitalization effort.

The bank has grown since that time through targeted acquisitions, with four quarters of earnings growth in 2011.

The new logo shared by Sonoma and Sterling banks features two overlapping “leaves,” meant to symbolize the business and commercial sides of the company’s bank offerings. Website addresses changed to www.bankwithsonoma.com and www.bankwithsterling.com.

The change was among several recent developments for Sterling Financial, including the promotion of Sonoma Bank’s Deborah Meekins to California market president and recently completed acquisition of First Independent Bank in Vancouver, Wash.

The company operates 189 branches in California, Idaho, Oregon Montana and Washington and reported assets of $9.19 billion at the end of 2011.