Financial Branding Wars: The Battle For Orange

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For the past year and a half, nearly everyone in the financial services industry has been focused on the battles over deposits, overdraft fees, interchange rates, and big banks versus the world. Many, however, have overlooked a battle that has been brewing for some time now: The battle for orange.

The battle pits two financial services giants: ING Direct and Discover.

ING Direct has been focused on orange right from its start in North America, even going as far as naming its accounts after the color: Orange Savings Account, Orange CD, Electric Orange Savings, Easy Orange Mortgage (all of which only fueled rumors that ING stands for Induces Nausea and Gas).

Discover may very well have been hanging its branding hat on the color orange for some time now, but it wasn’t until its escape from Morgan Stanley in 2007 that the firm really stepped up its struggle for orange supremacy. Discover has quietly been infusing its web site with orange over the past few years, and, quite frankly, its orange $75 cashback offer is a better deal than ING Direct’s $50 bonus offer — which is in blue, by the way.

With its orange-branded cafes, bouncing orange balls on its web site, and a huge section of its home page dedicated to nothing but the color orange, I would have to say that ING Direct has been winning the battle for orange.

Until now, that is.

Discover has fired a major shot in the war: It announced last week that it will be the title sponsor of the college football Orange Bowl for four years, starting in 2011. Take that ING Direct!

Who’s going to win this battle? My money is on Discover. Here’s why:

ING Direct is focused on cleavage. It recently released the results of what may be the stupidest market research ever conducted. According to the press release “when it comes to attracting men, a low credit card balance could do more than a low cut dress.” The study also found that “women are 56% more likely to give up sex than men.” Bathing suit-clad flash mob dancers in Canada only further my accusation. Sounds to me like the firm is more focused on blue than orange.

Discover is leaner and meaner. Have you ever driven the 28 miles from Chicago to Discover’s headquarters in Riverwoods, IL? I have.  It takes about 3 hours. The worst traffic I’ve seen this side of L.A. You’d be mean too if you had to drive to work there.

Credit cards are patriotic. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the stimulus package isn’t working. The economy needs another injection of spending. Credit cards — which promote spending — are for patriots. Savings accounts are for socialists.

Anyway, Seth Godin says color is important, so you can be sure this battle will go on for quite some time.

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