GMAC Launches Deposits-Only ‘Ally Bank’

Roughly six months after GMAC became a bank in order to receive TARP funds, the financial services firm has decided to christen its new banking division as Ally Bank. Ally will be an online-only “direct bank” serving the U.S. as the deposit-taking division of GMAC Financial Services.

Ally offers a variety of savings products, including no-penalty CDs, online savings accounts and money market accounts. Ally will not offer any loans. Any lending products would presumably be handled by other GMAC divisions.

“Unlike other banks which depend on fees, we want to make money with customers, not off customers.”
— Al de Molina, GMAC CEO

A major component of the new bank’s branding effort includes an ambitious consumer-focused brand strategy. Ally Bank has sworn itself to complete transparency on rates and terms, and says it won’t hide behind legalese and jargon. Ally is promising “straight talk” for customers, no sneaky disclaimers, no teasers, no bait-and-switch tactics, and 24-hour service that connects customers with live representatives.

“The Ally brand is founded on three principles: Talking straight, doing what is right for the customer, and being obviously-better than the competition,” said Sanjay Gupta, CMO/Ally.

The bank will be using the slogan, “Straightforward.”

“We are launching a new brand with a new approach of treating customers with total transparency.”
— Al de Molina, GMAC CEO

On the Ally website, the bank describes itself as, “A bank that values integrity as much as deposits. A bank that will always be open, accountable, and honest. Yes, honest. We won’t deal in half-truths, kindatruths, or truths only buried in fine print. That’s because we don’t have anything to hide. We’re always going to give it to you straight.”

Key Questions:

  • It’s a bold brand strategy, but can Ally Bank really deliver?
  • Can Ally live up to its name and promise to be a “financial ally?”
  • If the GMAC name wasn’t good enough for a new bank, why wouldn’t other divisions like GMAC Mortgage and GMAC Automotive Financing change names too?
  • As Shalini Amarnani wondered, “does rebranding remove the taint” of the GMAC brand?

Ally Bank’s deposits increased 16.5% in the first quarter of 2009 to $22.5 billion.

Owners of the GMAC parent company include GM and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. As the preferred lender for buyers of Chrysler vehicles, GMAC is expected to get more federal funds.

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