ING Direct’s “Tangerine” rebrand will only work if Scotiabank leaves it alone: Bruce Philp

This much reassurance is what you usually hear right before the tanks roll in

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Tangerine CEO Peter Aceto announcing ING Direct's new name in November 2013

Tangerine CEO Peter Aceto announcing ING Direct’s new name in November 2013. (Tangerine)

To say I’ve been paying close attention to the rebranding of ING Direct after its 2012 acquisition by Scotiabank would be a comical understatement. I was there at its birth in 1997, wrote most of those “save your money” commercials with the Dutch guy, watched it grow up through four CEOs, and then wrote a book about it. You can call that a disclosure; I’d call it an obsession.

Now, finally, the bank’s new brand is officially facing its customers, and I have to say they’ve done a pretty good job of it. The new name, as obvious a reference to ING Direct’s iconic colour as it may be, is note-perfect for its modernistic whimsy. The slogan, “Forward banking”, which I found arid and flat alongside ING Direct, now seems more at home. Along with the little arrow icon they created to go with it a while back, it provides some reassuring continuity. They were clearly patient and deliberate about this. Admirable—and all too rare these days.

I only wish I were as impressed with the accompanying narrative. Visit Tangerine’s new web site, and the first thing you’ll see is a promise not to change. And then another. And then a video that’s long on reassurance, and short of, well, much else:

It’s understandable that they’d want to keep their current customers calm, but I wonder if they listened too literally to their focus groups. Sure, customers will say they don’t want anything to change; what they really want, though, is to know what’s in this for them. Instead, I cringed a little when Scotia’s Anatol von Hahn said they would “let” ING Direct continue to do what it had always done, while Tangerine’s marketing people delivered their lines with the sincerity and confidence of hostages. This much reassurance is the kind of thing you usually hear right before the tanks roll in.

For all this, the best news here is that Scotia is going to run Tangerine as a separate business at all. It’s fun to think that it could do for them what Saturn was supposed to have done for GM: be a laboratory for innovation, free from the weight of history and scale, channeling what it learns back to the mother ship. Tangerine could still keep Canadian banking back on its heels and goad it into being better. And what a second act that would be.

4 comments on “ING Direct’s “Tangerine” rebrand will only work if Scotiabank leaves it alone: Bruce Philp

  1. I hope the rebranding of ING to Tangerine will be a complete success & BNS will let them continue as is & introduce new inovative products I have been with them from the beginning & have fair amount of money with them While I still need a full service bank in my area I like the saving on fees actualy getting paid interest on saving accounts [US or CND $] no matter what size the extra interest on GICs & the ease of making transfers to & from my full service bank It is a good place to have some of your RRSP RIFF TFSA & Investment Funds Being able to do most things directly on the computer or being able to talk to a real person on the phone GOOD LUCK Tagerine

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  2. Sadly, it appears that Scotia is already very busy trying to find a path to make Tangerine more “Scotia-like”. While Tangerine’s ads still tout the no-fee accounts, the web site has just added a very important weasel word. The web site now talks about “no UNFAIR fees”. My guess is it will be a revenue-seeking Scotia marketing manager looking for ways to boost his division’s bottom line who will be making the determination of what constitutes fair verus unfair fees. I was recently polled in a Tangerine maket reserch survey, and the entire survey
    was about adding monthly account maintenance and transaction fees.

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  3. I have a comment about your new ad showing a lady doing yoga and another having a massage. Myself, and nobody else in the family, can figure out what the lady having a massage says when she lifts her head off the bed.

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  4. I opened my first Tangerine account not long ago during one of their national advertising campaigns. Like the rest of human beings I like the underdog, especially a self deprecating one like ING had branded itself as. Seeing the little ‘wholly owned subsidiary of Scotia Bank’ line seriously bummed me out. If Scotia wants this to work they should get their greedy hands as far away from INGs persona as possible. It’s a sensitive thing to muck about with. As far as introducing fees to the equasion: you might as well just bank with PC Financial.

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