Greenhouse by Wells Fargo, the financial-services offering with a mobile app at its core, has benefitted from being an “endorsed” brand that mixes the long-standing equity of its parent company with startup energy.

Peggy Mangot, svp/head of development for Greenhouse – which is available for users of Apple devices in seven states, including Florida, Oregon and California – discussed this topic at Money20/20 (an event held by Ascential, which also owns WARC).

As a 167-year-old firm, Wells Fargo has vast equity in the financial space. But, at the same time, that legacy poses a branding quandary for Greenhouse in its efforts to attract new and younger users and develop an innovative business model.

“We had a lot of options,” Mangot said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Greenhouse by Wells Fargo: An “endorsed brand” that mixes historic equity with startup energy.)

“One is [being] very close with the Wells Fargo brand, and one – on the other end of the spectrum – is [being] completely autonomous.”

Like most large firms, Wells Fargo boasts major “distribution, scale and a very diverse product set”, said Mangot, meaning Greenhouse could make a huge impact with digital tools that seek to help consumers save money and limit spending.

A potential risk of adopting the Wells Fargo brand directly, though, could be “impacting” the experience of millions of customers with new features, tools and solutions – not least if there is a test-and-learn ethos at work.

While startups like to iterate on a clearly defined product, that is also harder for legacy brands, which have a broad slate of complex products.

Equally, startups generally construct a bespoke tech stack to meet their needs, whereas older businesses have legacy technology in place.

This led Greenhouse by Wells Fargo to a best-of-both-worlds option: “What we chose was something in the middle: the endorsed brand,” Mangot said.

“And the advantages of the endorsed brand is that it gave us the opportunity to be a lot outside of Wells Fargo. But it also gave us the advantage of ‘by Wells Fargo’ – this company that has been in banking for 167 years.”

From an innovation perspective, being a “stand-alone app” has clear benefits, too: “That gives us more autonomy to do something very new, very different, and, quite frankly, [to] find out if it’s working,” Mangot said.

Sourced from WARC