360 Ways to Upset Your Customers: Ing Direct’s Brand Goof

Ing Direct Merger and New Disgusting Logo

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.

—ELLEN GLASGOW

The average person is growing more sophisticated in its sensitivity and connection to brands. This can either work in a company’s favor, or not, especially in the era of social media.

Today, I learned that my online savings account Ing Direct merged with credit card company CapitalOne. Gone will be the hip orange brand with its happy bouncing ball and overall inviting feel. In its place will be yet another inexplicably uninspired logo mashup, probably the result of boardroom egos that overlooked the power and success of a brand that was able to make saving money seem fun. Red, white and blue isn’t exactly a step forward. And few people, if any, like credit card companies, which is why the visual brand is even more important in a case like this.

CapitalOne has owned Ing Direct for more than a year. But most of us only found out today via a reactive instead of proactive email. That mistake caused an even greater backlash because it broke down trust. People feel duped.

Retaining the visual strength of the brand or developing one that resembled the spirit of the original might have eased concerns. Witness the blowup on the Ing Direct Facebook page.

But why the hubbub over the color orange or a thoughtless name change, you ask? Isn’t that a superficial detail?

Because that’s how we humans are. We have a need to connect to the companies we do business with. We expect businesses to know us. We bought into a hip savings brand with a certain look and feel. A brand is not just the amount of time it takes to reply to a customer service email. It’s not how easily the website functions. A brand is more than that.

The devil is in the details. It’s not always easy to know which details are bedeviled, which is why there should be a thoughtful person asking the right questions. Someone should have had the curiosity and sensitivity to remember what brought customers there in the first place. That would have resulted in a name not associated with people’s fears (credit card company) and visual image that fit the spirit of the original Ing Direct. Change is good but even non designers know that the arc/swoosh logo is, well, very yesterday. People are saving for tomorrow.

5 comments

  1. Genevieve says:

    The arc/swoosh was very yesterday in 2002. What are these folks thinking? Excellent commentary, Jane! You are so on target with all your observations. Thanks as always for the Good Dirt.

  2. Genevieve says:

    Jane, in 2000 I was lucky to see the guys from 37 Signals (then a new company) give a hilarious anti-swoosh presentation at a design conference. I bet it was a related article you saw!

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