SOUTH PORTLAND — Wright Express Corp. announced Thursday that, after six months of study and the help of a branding and hiring firm, it is changing its name to WEX Inc., a name its employees, customers and vendors were already using.

WEX hired Neubrand of Westport, Conn., to handle the rebranding campaign. Company officials would not disclose how much the new name, brand and logo cost, saying it was part of its standard marketing budget.

“People do not always understand what we do. People think we’re a trucking and freight company,” said Michael Dubyak, chairman of the credit-card processing company, who announced the new name with the help of a drum roll as the new red-and-white logo was unveiled on the company’s building. “Customers and partners actually refer to us as WEX, so it felt natural.”

WEX said the new logo is more than just a red rectangle with white lettering; it’s rich with symbolism.

“The red logo is shaped like a credit card that’s tilted slightly upwards. That tilt shows we see things differently,” Dubyak said.

The WEX lettering has an “e” with a sharp point, which is meant to symbolize the company’s pointed precision in handling payment systems.

While the symbolism behind the logo may escape the average customer or investor, the new name will be familiar to many.

“It was an easy choice. WEX is used so commonly by customers and suppliers, it was in everybody’s heart already,” said Bob Knapp, managing director of Neubrand.

“It’s often easier to define names that don’t have a literal meaning. With Wright Express, everyone thinks you’re a trucking company,” Knapp said.

The rebranding process took about six months, Knapp said.

WEX has been on an acquisition spree, buying companies to expand its range of products and industries and build its international presence.

Dubyak said the company will continue to look at acquisitions, but has no particular targets in mind.

“In the virtual card space, we think we can be a global player. We may be able to accelerate that growth through acquisitions. We think we can be global with virtual cards,” Dubyak said.

Recent acquisitions include a $369 million deal this month to buy Fleet One, a fuel card company, from private equity firms.

The South Portland-based company said it continues to look at options for its office space. It said previously that it had hired a commercial real estate firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, to help it look at options within Maine.

Dubyak said the company aims to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013.

WEX, which is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, has about 1,300 employees worldwide. Its stock has jumped about 74 percent in the past 12 months.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

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