Wells Fargo makes new attempt to repair its brand

Advisers to get new marketing materials that feature a more modern stagecoach

Jan 25, 2019 @ 2:04 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Wells Fargo & Co. continues to try to spiff up its tattered brand, introducing a new marketing campaign Friday that will include a new look in promotional materials, including business cards and PowerPoint templates, used by 13,968 financial advisers who work at the brokerage division of the giant bank.

Called "This is Wells Fargo," the campaign will include new visual resources, including a revised stage coach, the long-time symbol of the bank.

The new marketing push comes on the heels of last year's major branding campaign to win back customer trust. Called "Re-Established," it acknowledged that the bank lost its way, but emphasized its commitment to "re-establish" its customer relationships.

Wells Fargo Advisors is part of the bank's Wealth and Investment Management unit. In an email Thursday to advisers, Marshall Butler, the head of wealth management marketing, called the effort a "brand identity refresh" that will begin in February and continue through the year.

Wells Fargo's problems started in September 2016 with the news that Wells Fargo bank employees had secretly created millions of unauthorized accounts in the names of customers without their consent. The bank was fined $185 million and then-CEO John Stumpf resigned abruptly. Other scandals followed.

At the time, the headcount at Wells Fargo Advisors was 15,086; based on the number of advisers reported this month in Wells Fargo's earnings report, the firm has seen a decline of 1,118 advisers over that time, a drop in its headcount of 7.4% in 27 months.

"The brand refresh will establish a cohesive look and feel that ties the [Wealth and Investment Management} businesses together and communicates the full breadth of our offering," Mr. Butler wrote.

"All the pieces of marketing advisers use with clients will line up with the new campaign," said Shea Leordeanu, a company spokesperson. "That includes brochures explaining to clients how Wells Fargo Advisors works with other groups, like our global portfolio specialists."

Executives at Wells Fargo have recently stressed that the number of advisers leaving most recently is declining.

One industry recruiter who has helped move advisers out of the firm to different employers, said that the bank's brand, in the aftermath of the scandals, remains a hindrance for its advisers.

"Advisers want to know that the brand they work under is the wind at their back, not in their face," said Danny Sarch, the industry recruiter. "Advisers I've placed out of Wells Fargo tell me that their clients are expressing relief."

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