By David L. Harris

As I was walking down Federal Street today, I was surprised to see a logo that I hadn’t really seen all that much. To me, the red sign with a simple red-and-white logo sticking out from 75 Federal St. had a certain minimalistic European style. The logo seemed to resemble steam coming from a cup of coffee or a plate with a slice of cake on it. I wondered if it was a cafe.

“Oh, I can get a bite to eat on my way back to the office,” I thought.

Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a branch of Santander, which was up until last week known as Sovereign Bank (and previously known as FleetBoston). Banco Santander, which recently recorded a surge in profits in Spain, is the largest bank in that country and acquired Sovereign in 2008. Sovereign’s branches were rebranded last week.

Not to sound nativist, but the sign and logo made me wonder if New England is ready for an American outpost of a very European bank with a very European name and logo (yes, Citizens Bank is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland). This is not to say that the company isn’t trying to root itself here — Santander USA’s CEO Roman Blanco recently bought a $4.3 million home in Boston’s Back Bay and the company’s U.S. headquarters is staying in Boston. And the company has lofty goals about taking over more market share in the U.S.

In the meantime, at least I didn’t order a cappuccino from the ATM.

How I mistook a Santander branch for a European-style cafe

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min