ING Direct Rebrand to Capital One 360 Irks Orange Ball Loyalists

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In June 2011, the Dutch financial services giant ING Group agreed to sell ING DIRECT USA to Capital One as part of a restructuring agreement with the European Commission. As part of the deal, ING Group permitted the use of “ING DIRECT” only until February, 2013, so the companies adopted Capital One 360 as its new brand name.

As a result, the distinctive ING Direct orange ball is rolling into the archives, to be replaced by Capital One’s red-and-blue logo with the addition of a red ball enclosing the number “360” with a sideways chevron. But not all current ING Direct US “Savers,” as they like to call their Facebook followers, are convinced. Some fans just can’t let go of the ball.

ING Direct customer David Mejias started a “save the orange ball” petition on Change.org, while another brand loyalist, Maria Elena Villegas, posted on Facebook: “So, Capital One bought the rights to the orange ball only to destroy any brand recognition and customer loyalty amongst ING customers? If anything, they should have rolled everything over to look and feel and work as ING Direct works. This is an absolute waste of branding, customer loyalty, and potential goodwill or at least neutrality from current ING customers by Capital One.”[more]

ING Direct first unveiled the orange ball logo as part of its “Touch the Ball” campaign in 2010, stating: “For the past decade, ING Direct has made banking simple through innovative products that add value, not aggravation,” said Arkadi Kuhlmann, President and CEO of ING Direct USA. “By touching the Orange Ball, we offer consumers multiple ways to save time and money — something Americans want and deserve.” 

Messing with the “enormous equity” the orange ball has done for the ING brand in the U.S., along with Capitol One’s $210 million government-imposed settlement for pressuring and deceiving card holders into buying products they could not use and did not want in the first case enacted since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank bill, may muddy the colors of not only the logo, but the newly combined brand’s consumer and business equity.

“ING DIRECT’s new name come February will be Capital One 360,” the bank announced on its Facebook page. “New name, new logo, new colors and the same focus as always – You.” Of course, with any merger and rebranding, longtime customers may be reluctant to make a change, especially for a service that’s so personal as banking.

A customer website further explained:

Coming up with a new name and logo took a long time – and we gave it a lot of thought. We were looking for a name and logo that are forward-thinking while also giving a nod to our past. And we think that Capital One 360 does just that. The name and logo symbolize that we’ve come full-circle, starting this journey with a new family, but still believing in the same things. And if you think about it, the name ING DIRECT is just a name. Who we are on the inside is the same, whether our name’s Capital One 360, ING DIRECT or Aunt Bertha’s Bank.

“Our name is changing to Capital One 360 and our colors are changing to red and blue – but our commitment to you is staying the same,” the website elaborates. “So what’s Capital One 360 all about? For starters, your day-to-day banking won’t be impacted. All the good stuff you’ve come to love from ING DIRECT is staying the same and we’ll have the same commitment to saving you time and money,”

ING has been part of Capital One since February 17th, but it wasn’t until November 1st that the two banks became a single legal entity, stating on Facebook, “Legally, we had to change our name, Saver. As for our colors, we have to be all color coordinated with our new family. We love Orange too, but we think red will look good on you.”

The inherent conflict stems from opposing brand images; ING Direct’s history of being consumer friendly and tech-savvy, vs. Capital One’s association with credit card holders with lower than average credit leveraged to push through rates and terms less than friendly to consumers, exacerbated by lax customer service.

A “company pledge” directed e-mails to customers with contact information for Jim Kelly, head of direct banking for ING Direct, and John Witter, president of retail and direct banking at Capital One (jim@ingdirect.com  and jon@capitalone.com). A new video promoting a new mobile app for checking still features the orange ball.

ING U.S. Inc. filed to raise $100 million in an initial IPO last week as it begins separating its global banking and insurance operations following a 2009 agreement with European regulators that Amsterdam-based ING Groep will focus on banking. The IPO covers ING U.S.’s operations including its retirement, investment and insurance business lines. In addition to the sale of ING Direct USA to Capital One for $9 billion, the company divested most of its Latin America business to Colombia’s Grupo Sura.

“As a long time owner of an ING Direct, the acquisition by Capital One and now the rebranding is not enough evidence for me to move my money out of the bank. I’m not happy about the decreased competitiveness of interest rates, but I’ve mitigated that by opening accounts elsewhere,” notes Luke Landes on Forbes.com.

Maybe they should have gone with Aunt Bertha’s Bank after all.

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