During this weeks presentation of the annual results, ING announced that it would stop using the brand Postbank as of 2009 and replace it with ING. Which will mean that the old traditional association of Postbank with the former government payment and savings services (Postcheque and Girodienst, Rijkspostspaarbank) is no longer visible in the name of the brand.
The whole exercise will cost 890 million euro's in the next 5 years, but is expected to contribute to the profits in the long run, with an estimated 440 million euro of yearly savings as of 2011. The number of jubs will be reduced with 2500 (which of course lead to concerns of labour unions).
The timing is interesting. Amidst a national debate and sentiment that regrets 'losing' ABN AMRO and its traditions and histroy to foreign banks, ING decides to schrub off its old skin and replace it with the internationally better-known ING-brand. Whether this move is really a sensible and forward looking strategic move or a huge strategic error (disinvestment in a well-known trusted brand that has been around for quite some years) will be a question for the case writers of Harvard Business School to investigate.
One thing that is quite well considered is the practical information to customers. When opening the internet-banking, there is a link on the further integration. It answers common questions:
- gironumbers (7 digits) will remain to exist,
- ING will adopt the Postbank business model; Postbank will adopt the ING-name
- it integrates the best of two worlds (advice with ING / standard products with Postbank),
- there has been extensive research under consumers,
- are bank fees rising as a result? No, we ensure that you can bank at low costs.