CMO Q&A: Sylvia Reynolds, Wells Fargo

Sylvia Reynolds talks to Aarti Shah about marketing in a tough climate and communications' need for more rigorous measurement

PRWeek: Consumer trust in financial institutions is very low right now. How do you rebuild this, especially when untimely news comes out, such as the story about the Wells Fargo executive who used a foreclosed home to throw parties?

Reynolds: I think the current climate absolutely demands that we stay true to the mission and values that have always guided this company. If you think about the arti-culated mission of Wells Fargo, it's all about helping our customers succeed. Every team member is called to accountability.

We are now a really large company and have 260,000 team members, so you are going to see a range of experiences. However, we also need to remind our team members every day that they are the brand.

PRWeek: What are some of the challenges in dealing with the media now?

Reynolds: It is really important to reexamine the things that we have "always done" and look at them through the lens with which someone else might look at them.

For example, I was astonished earlier this year to be facing media inquiries about why Wells Fargo has a museum program. I think the reporter pictured a very grand structure, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But when I said, "We actually educate thousands of school children every year about American history, about the value of learning about managing money," it was the end of the story.

However, when I did hang up of the phone, I thought, "It never would have occurred to me that someone would think of that as indulgent."

PRWeek: Do you think communications should have a more rigorous metric?

Reynolds: Yes. And some of the same measures we apply to marketing also apply to the reputation arena.

When we think of brand and reputation, we think of a Venn diagram with a pretty big overlap. There are clear responsibilities and skills that apply to the independent disciplines, but we focus on measuring both our reputation and our brand health at regular intervals, as well as customer experience.

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