From ING Direct to Tangerine — ‘Forward Banking’ Hasn’t Changed

From ING Direct to Tangerine — ‘Forward Banking’ Hasn’t Changed

By Cecilia Lowe (@cecilialowe)

TangerineFor weeks now, I have been driving by the same Tangerine billboard advertising their interest-earning chequing accounts. The billboard very simply asks “Do you want to earn interest on your chequing? a) Yes b) No.” The copy is so simple and yet, so effective in conveying the message.

You might have seen these ads too — on billboards, buses, TV commercials and at the movie theatre. Tangerine was officially launched in April of this year; but it is not another foreign bank entering the Canadian market. Formerly known as ING Direct, the bank was rebranded as part of the acquisition by the Bank of Nova Scotia. Imagine having to rebrand a financial institution, especially one with a brand that was well-liked and well-respected.

ING Direct was an innovator in the banking industry. From the first ‘Save Your Money’ commercials to their no fee, no minimum accounts, they are no strangers to introducing new banking practices to Canadians. And now, with their much younger, much funner branding, Tangerine is continuing to do what they do best – bring innovation and fresh ideas to an otherwise conservative industry.

We had a discussion on this rebrand a few weeks ago at my office and the general consensus was that it was a puzzling move. How do you go from the ING Direct brand with its traditional serif font and lion to a fun, whimsical brand with an orange coffee mug? I was puzzled at first. Banks have always been so corporate to me and so official — and it only made sense that the marketing would be a reflection of that. After all, banks are about money and from my past experience working in banks, I know that people get very serious when it comes to their money! It puzzled me that the Tangerine brand seemed so young and fun, and so far from what anyone would expect from a bank.

Fast forward a few weeks — maybe it’s the marketer in me, but I am always on the lookout for inspirations. Clarity finally came to me and of all places, while I was on vacation in Barbados. We drove by a construction site on Bay Street in Barbados and the exterior wall/fence had been painted orange (yes, the Tangerine orange) with a very simple message in white — “Think outside of the bank”. Not sure which bank it was for but seeing that did inspire a new thought.

Tangerine has always been a “think outside of the box” kind of bank. It has never been stuffy — their messaging has always been witty with a bit of humour. And the font? Well, the tagline “Forward Banking” has always been San Serif. A big part of the Tangerine rebrand has been about reassuring clients and the general public that while the name has changed, everything else has stayed the same. And I think its true.

The most important part of ING Direct still remains and that is their commitment to innovation and bringing simplicity to banking. With this new branding, Tangerine continues to push the envelop and challenge the way Canadians approach banking.

As with all innovators in their field, they will be met with push back but the more I think about this transition, the more it makes sense. Do you think Tangerine made the right move? And years from now, do you think Tangerine will be known for its part in changing how Canadians see banking or will it be known for making a silly move?

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Cecilia Lowe is a marketing strategist with Hep Communications in Winnipeg. Visit her marketing blog at