Being Orange In A Sea Of Blue

Tricia A. Conahan
SVP, Brand Marketing ING Americas

Sometimes, when everyone else is zigging ... it pays to zag.

That was certainly the case in 2001 when we introduced ING as a new financial services brand in the U.S. market. The past four years have seen tremendous growth in the ING brand and have astonished us all with some key learning about challenging the status quo in marketing.

It all started in late 2000. While only 15 years old, ING Group N.V. (ING) was already one of the world's largest financial services companies and the first global company to combine both banking and insurance businesses under one roof. This Amsterdam-based conglomerate, now 17th on the Fortune 500 list (2005 ranking), was aggressively pursuing an expansion strategy on all three continents.

In the U.S. that included buying ReliaStar Financial Corp., a major producer of annuity products; Equitable Life of Iowa Insurance Company, a large life insurance company; and Aetna Financial Services, Inc., a leading producer of defined contribution products, 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans for teachers, government workers, and small businesses. ING also owned 14 smaller regional insurance firms, which were operated as independently branded companies.