How online video helped one brand re-establish trust with its customers

Michael Lacorazza / January 2020

Michael Lacorazza, executive VP and head of integrated marketing at Wells Fargo, shares how his team used YouTube to emotionally connect with its audience and, in the process, re-establish Wells Fargo as a great American brand.

Wells Fargo has helped its customers achieve their financial goals for more than 167 years. We serve a diverse customer base, from first-time college students to Fortune 500 companies.

But if you’re familiar with Wells Fargo, you might know that we’ve had our name in the headlines over the last few years regarding sales practices in our retail bank — and not in a favorable light. Brand perception suffered, and consumer trust in us was severely shaken.

Circle icon of 3 credit cards shifting from gray to blue. Accompanying stat reads: 81% of banking customers consolidate their accounts at one institution because they trust a brand.

Our top priority was rebuilding trust with our customers. Next to convenience, trust is the most frequently cited reason for deepening a financial relationship — 81% of banking customers consolidate their accounts at one institution because they trust a brand.1 To win back trust and improve our brand, we needed to take accountability in a public way. That’s where video marketing came in.

Video storytelling could be a critical link in your marketing

The key insight going into this phase of our brand recovery was that the acknowledgment of our mistakes had not landed broadly across many of our stakeholders. Customers wanted reassurance that the company was future focused. Our hypothesis was that, to be effective, we would have to deliver a message that was bolder and outside of our traditional comfort zone.

A key moment in our “Re-Established” campaign video is when the screen goes dark, without sound, symbolizing when things went wrong at the company. It is followed by a sense of optimism about where we are going.

As we were crafting this work, it was polarizing to some internal stakeholders. There was some risk in publishing it. Ultimately, our CEO gave it the green light, and we were able to move forward.

In crafting our go-to-market plan, we wanted to maximize reach with impact, and turned to YouTube specifically as a high-visibility way of authentically reaching customers and prospects.

We value video marketing as a tool for emotionally connecting with consumers. For example, 7 in 10 people feel empowered, motivated, or confident after learning something new on YouTube.2

Harnessing the power of video means rethinking storytelling

Creating for YouTube isn’t the same as creating for traditional video channels. Through testing, we learned that it’s got a totally different rhythm of narration than traditional marketing. In a TV commercial, for example, you start off with something intriguing, build to a climax, deliver the offer, then sign off with your logo. That approach doesn’t necessarily work for bumpers, TrueView ads, YouTube mastheads, and the other formats we were using online.

Effective creative comes together through testing and learning what works for your business and customers.

But YouTube is different. We worked closely with Google and our ad agency, BBDO Worldwide, to develop a strategy for digital video that really communicates our core story effectively. YouTube’s ABCD creative guidelines are a great start. But effective creative comes together through testing and learning what works for your business and customers. We looked at user retention curves in YouTube analytics and found ways to keep the viewer’s attention. For example, we discovered we have only a couple of seconds to grab our audience’s attention and get our brand identity across. And we can’t save the CTA until the very end in case viewers drop off — we need to leave nuggets throughout the video for viewers to go deeper and act on the CTA.

We also learned that it’s not just how you tell the story. It’s also getting the right story in front of the right audience. Customers needed to know we had their back, so they continue banking with us. Prospects needed to know why they should come on board.

Video has an irresistible nature that grabs people emotionally. More so than any other format, it helped us to hit all the right notes — the strength of our heritage, commitment to customers, and spirit of innovation — with great results.

With digital video and YouTube, you can make a phenomenal difference

While it’s tough to get an apples-to-apples read of performance and brand metrics, we started to see phenomenal results early on.

Of the 27 brand metrics we wanted to improve, we saw enhancements across 19. Most notably, with our Google TrueView campaigns, we saw significant lifts in online awareness (+10.4%), emotional connection (+10%), brand consideration (+8.3%), and favorability (+8.7%).

YouTube enables us to test, learn, and deliver those nuanced and authentic messages that helped to improve brand perception. It allowed us flexibility, speed of execution, and the ability to reach specific audiences that traditional TV couldn’t. In fact, our “Re-Established” campaign on YouTube became the creative test bed for video more broadly. Since then, we have worked with our media agencies and Google to test and optimize results, then roll out learnings across many different campaigns and channels, such as social media.

The last few years have been a humbling and rewarding experience for us. We turned to video as way of connecting with customers in a time of crisis, and ended up learning a lot that can make our content and video more effective. As our trust and brand recovery efforts continue, we’re extending those lessons into our current, “This is Wells Fargo” campaign. Inspired by the spark between people and technology, the campaign emphasizes an elevated customer experience that is personal, easy, and helpful. A perfect fit for the demonstrative and storytelling power of video.

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