Ann Glover, the chief marketing officer of ING U.S., blitzed the media this week to publicize the fact the firm is officially phasing in its new identity as Voya Financial this spring, with completion of the process set for September 2014.
The voyage to Voya was announced a year ago, but effecting the change took a while. On April 7, Glover said, the ING U.S. holding company will be officially rebranded as Voya Financial. The investment management and employee benefits business will become Voya on May 1, and the insurance and retirement businesses will rebrand in September.
Where did the name Voya come from? “We loved the idea of an abstract name,” she told RIJ during one of her half-hour telephone stops. “Voya is about the voyage to and through retirement. It’s about transitioning from detailed planning to detailed action.” About the name’s slightly Spanish flavor, Glover said: “We know that there’s a growing ethnic population, but that wasn’t a key criteria.”
For a fact sheet on ING US/Voya Financial businesses, click here.
The rebranding of ING U.S. is a ripple effect of the 2008 financial crisis. The unit’s parent, Amsterdam-based financial conglomerate ING Group NV, was forced to divest its U.S. assets to reduce risk and shore up capital after receiving a bailout from the Dutch government. ING Group’s stake in Voya has been dropping, and now stands at 43%, a Voya Financial spokesman said.
“You want to establish criteria” when you pick a name, Glover said. “We wanted a name that was easy to spell and to say.” “Voya” was an early contender. It survived a legal and aesthetic winnowing process that started with about 5,200 names, some of them computer generated, and then came down to 25 semi-finalists and a half-dozen finalists. “It just kept winning.”
A desire for continuity as well as differentiation influenced the tailoring of the new brand. Although the ING U.S. name and the orange lion rampant image (which comes from the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau; one of Princeton University’s school colors and the name of Nassau Hall have the same source) will vanish, the orange color will stay, although in a slightly different shade.
“Orange signals our optimism,” Glover told RIJ. “We asked employees, partners and consumer what they thought our brand stood for, and we found that it was important that we are seen as optimistic.”
Voya has abandoned the “What’s your number?” advertising theme, which ING U.S. made famous. That campaign encouraged Americans to focus on the dollar amount (a figure, usually over $1 million, that included the present value of their Social Security benefits).
“We have moved from the ‘Your Number’ campaign to an ‘Orange Money’ campaign,” Glover said. “We introduced orange money at the beginning of 2013. Orange money is the money you save; green money is the money you spend.”
To maintain consumer awareness of the company during the transition, Voya is partnering with NBC, Glover said. “We’re sponsoring segments of the Today Show called ‘Today’s Money.’ Consumer tweet their questions about finance to Matt Lauer, and he and one of the show’s financial consultants work to answer them.
“We help out by promoting the answers via social media. We also have branding on the Today Show set. There’s a piggybank image with the words Today’s Money, and the ING US logo is part of that,” she said. That ad, and a half-dozen ING US ads on the Today Show website, push two concepts: “Orange Money” and the fact that ING US is becoming Voya Financial.
It’s not as if ING US hasn’t been through rebrandings before, Glover said. In 2000, ING Group acquired ReliaStar and Aetna Financial Services, and changed their names to ING US. In 2008, the company bought CitiStreet, and overnight became one of the largest retirement plan providers in the U.S.
“We’ve been operating as ING for over ten years,” she added. “Think about the number of companies we assimilated during that time. We had to rebrand each of those companies. So we have often reminded ourselves that we know how to do this.”
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