Lily Harder
Lily Harder is Vice President of Research, Mintel Comperemedia. She specializes in financial services, researching industry trends and competitive intelligence insights.

Over the past 18 months, Wells Fargo has been fraught with scandal; a list that includes creating millions of fake accounts, overcharging mortgage fees and pushing car insurance costs customers didn’t need. The Federal Reserve punished Wells Fargo by not allowing the bank to grow its assets until they overhauled their business practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also issued an unprecedented penalty, fining Wells Fargo $1 billion.

According to Mintel’s 2018 North America Consumer Trend ‘Trust Funding’ consumers are losing trust in brands after a scandal or controversy and, as a result, seeking out a more trustworthy alternative that better aligns with their worldview. So, how does one of the largest banks in the world bounce back from scandal, crisis and a struggling brand image?

Re-Established campaign

Enter “Re-Established.” Wells Fargo recently launched a new, omnichannel marketing campaign, intending to tap into the long-standing history of earning the American consumer’s trust. The campaign kicked off with a one-minute video that aired nationwide, followed by a digital launch across social media and online advertising. The new campaign is an effort to redefine its image, in line with the bank’s recently announced corporate objectives: simplify the business, invest in the future and improve the company culture.

From politics to IT security to the media, there are many forces making it difficult for consumers to know who or what to trust. Luckily for financial services providers, there is still an opportunity to build trust with consumers. More than half (59%) of US consumers trust their bank/credit union to treat them fairly, while 77% of Canadian consumers have this same sentiment, as stated in Mintel’s 2018 Financial Services Marketing Trends.

More than half (59%) of US consumers trust their bank/credit union to treat them fairly, while 77% of Canadian consumers have this same sentiment.

What We Think

Wells Fargo made a strategic decision to get back to its roots as opposed to revitalizing the bank’s brand as an entirely new entity with distinct values and principles. The bank used this PR challenge to bring public focus back to its storied history, while also emphasizing how it will be fundamentally different in the future.

Creating a truly integrated, omnichannel campaign will ensure that the bank’s new message and re-established values are clearly communicated to customers and prospects across all marketing channels. The campaign’s success will depend on the bank’s ability to adapt the message to each channel.

Consumers may appreciate Wells Fargo’s mea culpa, but the success of this effort to rebuild trust will depend upon what the bank does next. It is one thing to promise to be trustworthy, but Wells Fargo must demonstrate its commitment in ways that are tangible to consumers’ everyday lives.