Companies & Industries

Why ING Direct changed its name to Tangerine

Don't expect fruit references

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

ING Direct first announced in November of last year that it would be changing its name in the new year. This week that day arrived, as the 17-year-old bank will now forever be known by the whimsical title Tangerine.

Canadian Business spoke with CEO Peter Aceto about the year-long process of redefining the brand, and why you won’t ever see references to fruit in its advertisements.

Why the name change?

The rebrand was born out of necessity rather than choice, says Aceto. ING Direct’s owner, ING Group, sold it to Scotiabank in August 2012 and gave the bank 18 months to continue using its name and the ING lion logo before finding a new title.

The research process

“There were really two things that we wanted to achieve in getting to actual names,” Aceto says. One was to protect ING Direct’s stake in the marketplace, which currently amounts to about 2 million customers, while the other was to set the bank apart from its competitors.

“When we launched, having a bank called ING Direct then was odd, because everything was named “Bank.” A lot’s changed since then,” Aceto says.

“Our competitors and us sound more similar [as ING Direct] than they did 10 years ago. In our choosing of our name we wanted it to further differentiate ourselves for our customers and make us again look more like a challenger and to stand out from the rest.”

The company hired California-based marketing experts Lexicon Branding, the same team that helped Research In Motion become BlackBerry, and came up with the names Swiffer and Febreze. The bank then started asking customers and employees in both focus group settings and online surveys what they thought the ING Direct brand represented.

Why “Tangerine” won

“Simplicity” and “innovation” were two things the bank wanted to come across in its new name—the idea was to hearken back to its earlier days (being an alternative, simplified place to do your banking), but push the brand forward at the same time. The name Orange was considered on the shortlist, but was considered to be “too safe or obvious of a choice.” Tangerine makes reference to ING Direct’s orange history, while also being significantly different.

Aceto says part of the branding discussion also took into account the more “fun” aspects of the name.

“We understood the risk that a name like that could be interpreted as being silly, or not serious,” he says. “Banking is important, it’s serious. We’re asking you to give us your life savings, or to help you buy a home or invest.”

That’s why there won’t be any references to fruit in any of Tangerine’s advertising materials or promotional campaigns. The fun name “does a lot of work for us” in sparking interest in Tangerine, Aceto says, but service at the customer level needs to be thoughtful and earnest in order to build a client base.

“I want people to think, oh, they’re different. They’re not like everyone else.”

Foregoing a logo

The ING Direct lion was a logo that could stand on its own, but Aceto says Tangerine was more interested in finding the right name than in designing a new, complex symbol. The name will be shown with a small arrow (sitting in perfect harmony to the right of the “e”) in order to support its tagline “Forward Banking.” Its also an adaptation of an arrow that ING Direct has been using for a couple of years.

While you will encounter the arrow on mobile devices (these days brands need something that can fit in a small square on app stores and social media sites), you won’t often see it on its own.

“Our conclusion at the end of the day is that the name is the thing that’s so special.”