Turning 25: What’s in a name change?

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13 April 2016

ING celebrates its 25th birthday this year. The merger of Dutch bank NMB Postbank and Dutch insurer Nationale-Nederlanden on 4 March 1991 led to ING’s formation. But how did the public get used to the new name? Help was at hand from an old friend.

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For a decade, Dutch actor André van den Heuvel starred in TV commercials for NMB Postbank. In 1992 he made one final appearance, teaching the Dutch public how to pronounce the Bank’s new, three-letter name.

Between 1975 and 1984, Van den Heuvel would always end the commercials with his famous closing line: “De NMB denk met U mee” (The NMB thinks along with you).

Actor André van den Heuvel in the <br> commercial promoting the name change

Actor André van den Heuvel in the
commercial promoting the name change

Eight years later, in September 1992, Van den Heuvel made one more appearance in a commercial with a simple message that also ended with a line of similar cadence and rhythm: “En Em Bee wordt Ie En Gee” (NMB becomes ING).

The commercials were part of a major marketing operation. Apart from the TV ads, ING aired numerous radio commercials with Van den Heuvel. Thousands of billboards and posters appeared all over the country with his simple message.

It worked. In early 1993, ING Bank TV (ING’s then internal visual communications channel) presented the results of a consumer survey. While only 31 percent of Dutch consumers knew the ING name in August, by October, halfway through the campaign, that number had risen to 70 percent. In December a healthy 83 percent of people were familiar with the new brand.

And what’s more, no less than 90 percent knew how to pronounce this cryptic, three-letter name.

It lasted until December 1995 before the statutory name changed to ING Group N.V. Until then, the company still formally carried its full name: the Internationale Nederlanden Groep.

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