ING’s Latest Voyage: Voya Company Name Review


So ING U.S., the American retirement, investment and insurance arm of the Dutch multinational ING Group, is breaking free of its parent company and getting a brand makeover. Besides losing the iconic ING lion in favor of a simpler, all-type logo, the now-independent U.S. company is also renaming itself Voya Financial as of sometime in 2014.

The decision came after a mere 5,230 names were developed, followed by “multiple rounds of creative refinement, 390 legal prescreens” and testing “in nearly 60 different languages.” And voila. Voya.

While the trading debut of the company this month was auspicious, public response to the brand name so far has been underwhelming at best (one journalist pronounced it “the most generically bland name possible”). Yet I confess I kind of like it.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want the entity that manages my retirement funds to sound playful or wildly creative. So the fact that Voya does neither doesn’t really bother me. And Voya is far from leaden. Unlike many Latinate brand names, there’s energy and forward movement in those two little speech-friendly syllables, which evoke the Spanish “vaya” (“go”). The name also evokes the word “voyage,” as well as “clairvoyant.” And it’s clearly different from most competitors’ names out there—think Schwab, Morgan Stanley, and Vanguard.

Yes, I’d have preferred a name that’s less Spanish-sounding for a company that’s re-launching itself as an independent U.S. company. And the truncation of voyage to “voya” is a tad unsettling. But neither of these minuses rises to the level of a serious concern.

All in all, for a brand that prides itself as seeing into the future and “guiding customers on their voyage towards retirement,” there’s a lot that’s apt about Voya. I’d vaya with it.

Overall grade: B-

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