Wells Fargo Does Corporate History Right

Guided By History Wells FargoRan across the Wells Fargo corporate history site and companion blog.

The blog is called Guided By History, and it is run by Wells Fargo’s Historical Services department. Wow. Not only do they have writers blogging and posting history about Wells Fargo and its customers, but the company runs a series of small museums in their corporate lobbies.

This is smart for a number of reasons. First, it is smart because a company that knows its history is a company that has a sense of where it has been, and where it can go. Knowing history is ultimately forward thinking; it is about understanding how you got to now. The history is not just past thinking. For instance, they did a recent green history of Wells Fargo. History at the service of the company. It’s really p.r.

Lots of employees blog for the site, including the CEO, John Stumpf, and Mariane Babal, corporate historian. This not only shows a respect for American history, and the history of the West, but it honors the previous employees who have built Wells Fargo.

The history is not just a 300-word blurb and timeline. It is an evolving document of understanding Wells Fargo and its role in U.S. history, yesterday and tomorrow.

There are many audiences for the history. There are business administration students. Grade school and high school kids doing reports. Curious customers. Former employees. Future employees. Regulators. Bureaucrats. A few reasons why this helps, and more companies need to look at Wells Fargo’s approach and follow it.

Why do it?

  1. It positions your company as being open and truthful.
  2. It increases brand recognition.
  3. It tells your competitors that you are not just a staid company, but a self-aware force to be reckoned with.
  4. It talks to opinion leaders who shape others’ opinions of the bank.
  5. It helps to legally protect your trademark.
  6. Legacy companies have a cost of keeping archives. Putting them on display helps you get some value out of them.
  7. It fills the search results of your company with information that is written by you, not anonymous twits.
  8. It tells regulators and politicians that your company is careful and thorough, and is not embarrased about the past.
  9. It gives the subliminal (or overt) message that the company has been around for ever, and will be around forever.
  10. It’s fun, and makes employees feel like they are part of something grander and more important, which they are.
  11. It connects with customers, and gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling about Wells Fargo.

Few companies really know how to mine their history. But in an age of Search Engine Optimization, a company’s history is one of the best ways to get in front of consumers. Text. Words. They are the only lure online. Go look and see how Wells Fargo does it.

Frankly, in an age when people pay millions for a 1 minute Super Bowl ad, the expenditure of a few hundred thousand by a corporate archives department is nothing. I cannot say enough good things about this effort. Go read it.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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  1. Garland, I manage the social media team at Wells Fargo. Thanks so much for your kind words about Guided by History, our first blog. Couldn’t agree more how important it is to link history to today, particularly in these tough economic times.

  2. Thanks so much for your interest in our history website and blog! We welcome everyone who wants to explore history with us — both Wells Fargo history and history in general.

    (Nice blog, Mr Pollard!)

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