GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A Gulf Coast bank is rebranding to combine two historic names.

Mississippi-based Hancock Holding Co. announced Tuesday that it's becoming Hancock Whitney Corp., and will begin calling all its branches by that name early next year.

The company had operated as Whitney Bank in Louisiana and Texas, and Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, since Hancock took over Whitney in 2011.

Bank leaders said some people were already calling the bank by the new moniker, and Hancock tipped its hand earlier this year when it leased space in New Orleans' tallest skyscraper, One Shell Square. That building will become Hancock Whitney Center. The company is already using the new name for its website and mobile banking application.

CEO John Hairston called the name change a "natural progression" in Wednesday remarks to investors.

"This is really about clarity and simplicity eliminating the awkwardness of dealing with both brands," Hairston said.

The company will remain headquartered in Gulfport and the bank will continue to operate under a Mississippi state charter.