101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Global Lead Brand Management at ING
"Over the past decade our brand has become a digital, mostly mobile experience. Sound in that context is crucial for use to establish an emotional bond with our customers."
Nanne Bos, Global Lead Brand Management, ING
Nanne Bos leads the Global Brand Management team at ING Group in Amsterdam. In that position, he is responsible for defining and executing the global branding strategy and the growth of the ING brand which stretches across 40 countries.
Prior to his current role at ING, Nanne was a member of the board of ING Insurance Benelux with responsibility for the brand and the reputation of the insurance activities in the Benelux. He has over 15 years of experience in media and technology with various companies including positions with Siemens, CMG and Atos Worldline.
Uli Reese: Tell me about your role at the brand.
Nanne Bos: My role is global brand lead at ING. In close co-operation with the Executive Board I drive the coherence between all the aspects of the organisation. I always like to say I am responsible for everything and for nothing!
Reese: You gave a speech where you said you had 80 different values and you try to condense them down to three. Is that what you mean by coherence?
Nanne: I think maybe cohesion is a better word. The brand can not be separated from the organisation, the culture. It’s a leadership thing and the amplification of vision and of strategy. It should connect the dots, and drive the coherence between finance, HR, marketing, customer experience, digital, IT etc. The brand is the glue to bring all these pieces together.
Reese: In a nutshell, what is ING?
Nanne: At the core it’s empowering people to progress in life. That’s our purpose. From a brand perspective the main value is about freedom so it’s creating more time and more freedom for people to do the things they want to do. We acknowledge that life is not about banking. Nobody wakes up in the morning looking forward to doing their banking so the mission of ING is to create freedom for our customers.
Reese: What’s the role of audio now in your consumer experience?
Nanne: I have Ted Schappert retiring in August and he has been with the bank for 42 years. He came out of graphic design school and was hired to design banking forms. Brand management didn’t exist in those days so it was really about functional elements. We started to see the value that if you design a form in the right way it can save you a lot of money and create a positive experience. The easier the form, the more time people save for more important things. Over the years, brand management t ING matured. In the Seventies and Eighties the focus shifted to branch design and the experience we offered. But that is now of the past. Last year we had about 4.7billion digital interactions with our retail customers - 80% were mobile - and in 2020 through COVID we project an extra 20%. Banking has become an activity. And ING an enabler brand. It’s gone from physical to digital. Little things make a difference. No bank in the world has a sound as part of the user experience. In a functional context it can instantly create an emotional connection and that’s something I want to explore.
Reese: So how is the world going to experience the brand in terms of audio?
Nanne: I have a house full of Google systems and switch on my life with my voice. This is the starting point. But if you think about a voice going to be your brand, as a personality talking to you, it raises a lot of questions about female or male and languages. Across markets you can’t get away with real voices any more you need to go synthetic.
Reese: Or hybrid?
Nanne: Yes, or by using artificial intelligence. You can develop your own voice it just takes a lot of computing power. You can quickly translate the voice into different languages and tweak that into what the natural culture accepts, or what is best for the bank. I think we are five years or so from there.
In a functional context, sound can instantly create an emotional connection, and that’s something I want to explore.
Reese: We’re in the Golden Age of audio now and it started about two or three years ago but why do you think it’s been so rapid?
Nanne: Screenwriter Robert McKee, who is known for his book Story, talks about how you go to the cinema, give up two hours of your time, and open yourself up to the experience. But people are ruthless he says, if they don’t get into the story immediately. With TV there was an artist in the Sixties who put out a TV show that was offensive but people kept watching. Now, if you do the same they will give it a second and switch off. There is a lot of content but we have a personal filter. If you want to tap into the emotion of sound and sonic then maybe you can place it at different parts of the journey?
Reese: Do you agree that trust can be built digitally and that sonic identity is part of that?
Nanne: For banks it’s very important. I don’t like the phrase trust building as such because I think it’s something you give not something you get. The question is why would someone give that to you? For banks it’s about consistency of the experience. The experience is linked with the brand and you can reinforce it by adding a sonic experience to your toolbox. It’s an element but it needs a lot of time
Reese: CMO’s talk a lot about how we fix broken experiences. Do you have advice for them?
Nanne: For a bank the foundation is about financial stability, reliability and integrity. If a customer has any doubts about your foundation, you are out of business. If your foundation is solid, its is more about doing, than saying. Showing that you are relevant, by innovating and introducing features that are relevant. Ultimately – it is about value congruence.
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