Wells Fargo’s Empowerful Exchange had a soft launch in February and fully launched in May as a platform for the company to share the stories of entrepreneurs, diverse business owners, individuals and communities it has worked with. Whether it be the story of a veteran who received a Wells Fargo scholarship to pay for his education or a nonbinary entrepreneur who, with the help of Wells Fargo funding, created a shoe company that makes shoes for people of all genders, these stories all focus on celebrating financial hurdles people have overcome.
DiversityInc spoke with Jamie Moldafsky, Wells Fargo’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), about the page and the stories Wells Fargo has highlighted through it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
DiversityInc (DI): Tell me about yourself and how you’re involved with Empowerful Exchange.
Jamie Moldafsky (JM): I am the CMO of Wells Fargo, and that means I have responsibility for marketing at Wells Fargo, which includes many of the usual things you would expect around working on our communications, and our advertising, and our marketing, but also we manage the diverse segments — all of our efforts around fostering deep relationships with our diverse customers. In terms of Empowerful, I am very proud that in multiple ways, my team is really on point for continuing to find ways to engage with customers and prospects, individuals, small businesses and communities. Particularly those in diverse segments where we have a long history of serving our communities but also finding ways to offer resources and support that may differ based on the individual and the community.
DI: Explain briefly what Empowerful Exchange does.
JM: Empowerful Exchange is really a new platform for Wells Fargo that enables us to connect emotionally with diverse communities. It’s based on the insights that these communities and individuals, in addition to their unique dimensions, share a very common drive to succeed, and are seeking inspiration, partnership, empowerment and support. Wells Fargo is here to provide those things. So, it’s a platform where we engage and provide content and resources to help diverse individuals, small businesses and communities thrive.
DI: So, essentially, it’s a mini news site for you to showcase the different stories of the people you’re working with.
JM: Yeah. It’s both a campaign, and it’s a landing page and experience. Once we engage — people can come engage with the content and the tools and the resources — it opens up a world that is available to them through Wells Fargo.
DI: What was the main driving factor behind wanting to create Empowerful?
JM: I think it started with the very authentic inspiration that came from the research that we did. As any good marketing organization, we do a lot of research, and I think as we were researching different ways to communicate and engage with diverse segments, we kept hearing this theme of “I have all these challenges, and I’m looking for someone who can help me celebrate when I accomplish things, and then help propel me forward.” And, then people started talking about how Wells Fargo did that for them. And we were excited about the opportunity to very authentically connect with individuals and communities, and this idea of recognizing their first and propelling their next. That idea of being there for them at each of those steps. And what was exciting was to find that it was consistent whether it was a student or a small business owner or an individual with a unique ability.
DI: How are you able to find these different community members and entrepreneurs and connect with them?
JM: Well, it clearly started initially with our existing relationships. So, the fact that we are so deeply steeped in communities through our bankers and our branches through our team member networks, that we were able to tap into that. We were hearing these stories clearly as we did our research. Then, we were able to identify individuals through our own team members and our own branch bankers to find individuals that had these stories. And what was exciting was they wanted to share those stories. What we found was once we kind of put the word out, if you will, it was very easy to identify individuals because they had such passion for the platform and for the idea of sharing their story. And they loved even the word Empowerful, which, to them, really encapsulated those dimensions of empowerment and power and that ability to actually feel that they could take on all of the challenges in front of them.
DI: And you also were able to connect with some pretty high-profile people to help get your message across. The video with Nik Kacy has Jordin Sparks in it. How did that partnership begin?
JM: As we looked at ways to bring these stories to life and to share this platform, we were looking for individuals who also had an equal passion. And if you watch the videos, you see that Jordin is so passionate herself. We looked for people who may want to partner with us to bring these stories to life, and who had a personal level of engagement and passion in the journey, and what you see is that she really, in particular, appreciates these individuals and all that they have done, and appreciates Wells Fargo’s role in that as well.
The one thing I just wanted to stress was as we came into this … it’s so important that at the heart of connecting with diverse communities in particular is a level of authenticity. And I think what excited us was that everything about this campaign and the platform and the stories and the resources, all were rooted in this level of truth: the truth about how people feel, the truth about the resources they need, the truth about their experience with Wells Fargo, even.
DI: With large companies and especially large banks, people don’t feel that authenticity. Aside from being a great PR site for your company and making your mission known, what does Empowerful do for these communities that they are talking about?
JM: It wasn’t just about product or solutions, it was also about education and resources. So that really is one level of service that we provide. In addition to that, the Wells Fargo Foundation contributed over $444 million last year in support for communities. Specifically — I’ll just share one example — to support the growth of diverse small businesses, we have our Diverse Community Capital program. And really what that does is we provide grants and lending capital to community development financial institutions, which are called CDFIs. And they, in turn, help diverse small businesses that may not qualify for conventional bank loans. So, we understand that sometimes we can’t directly support businesses, but we can indirectly enable that.
DI: How does dedication to small business owners, communities, entrepreneurship and underrepresented communities all combine to be important to Wells Fargo’s mission?
JM: We only thrive if our communities thrive, and the individuals of those communities. And we know that. And that has always been core to our vision and values and our mission, which is to help individuals and communities succeed, because that is the only way we succeed. Our success is a reflection only of the individuals and communities that we serve.
Additional statement from Wells Fargo:
We invite our communities to continue their journey of empowerment and take it a step further. Together, we can start a chain of inspiration and action to enable you, your family and your community to reach the next level in your journey. Inspiring videos, tools and resources are at wellsfargo.com/empowerful.