At a glance

We partnered with Pathward, N.A., a national bank that offers banking as a service and commercial financing to underserved markets, to architect an integrated marketing technology foundation based on the Adobe platform to launch an updated brand and fuel its customer experience.

What we did

  • Strategy
  • Organizational change & talent
  • Experience design & strategy
  • Data
  • Systems implementation
  • Digital product building

Expanding financial access is the heart of Pathward’s business. The national bank works with diverse partners to deliver financial products to underserved markets—the individuals and businesses that traditional financial institutions have historically overlooked.

Pathward’s story began in 1954 as a community bank and grew via expansions and acquisitions through the years, eventually coming to represent multiple brands under the bank’s family. By early 2022, the company’s leadership knew it was time to streamline its brands and messaging and it was well positioned when another company offered to buy its brand name and certain trademarks.

Pathward came to an agreement to sell its name and various trademarks, committing to rebrand within a matter of months and embarking on a remarkable next chapter. The company started the year under a different name with multiple legacy brands and websites, but ended it as Pathward, reinvented with one brand, two core lines of business, and a modern, redesigned website.

“Changing our name was merely one part of the story,” says Pathward president Anthony Sharett, who describes the rebranding as the most visible manifestation of a bottoms-up business transformation that streamlined numerous areas of the business into a new, simpler operating model. “The goal was to simplify our business structure, improve product innovation, boost knowledge sharing, and strengthen our culture under the umbrella of a brand that embodies our purpose of powering financial inclusion.”

The importance of empathy

When Pathward sold certain trademarks, it aimed to launch its new brand in October 2022.

“Every customer likes to take on three or four transformations at one time, and it can be a disaster,” observes Dustin Withrow, Slalom senior principal and delivery lead for Pathward. “This is one of those rare times when they can plant the flag and say, ‘We were able to do everything we wanted to do in a year's time.’ It was really transformational in a short period.”

Fortunately, it was already moving in the right direction. Pathward’s IT department had just completed a rigorous assessment of marketing automation platforms and selected Adobe Marketo Engage as the winner. Sold on the value and quality of Adobe products, it chose Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) for its new, unified content management system. It hired consultants to guide the rebranding and design new trademarks.

With a tight timeline and new technology to implement, Pathward needed a consulting partner that could determine an efficient way to get from pre-rebrand marketing strategies, technologies, and operating models to a unified future state. They had to be experienced Adobe experts at a minimum, but Pathward also prized soft skills, attention to detail, and value alignment that collectively promised a shared commitment that extends far beyond delivering a website on time and on budget. They found that in Slalom.

“I felt like Slalom truly cared about doing a great job and making sure everything was executed on time,” says Amanda Gress, senior vice president of IT infrastructure and operations for Pathward. “You wouldn’t have known they were an external entity.”

I felt like Slalom truly cared about doing a great job and making sure everything was executed on time. You wouldn’t have known they were an external entity.

New system benefits

Before launching Pathward.com, the bank’s several websites used a combination of the open-source Wordpress platform, a platform that lacked full support, and custom coding. Because of these complexities, Pathward’s marketing department relied on Pathward’s IT team to update old content or add new pages, adding layers of complexity and making it hard to implement website changes quickly.

“Even simple updates were very manual and required coordination among multiple people,” says Barbara Raus, marketing manager for Pathward. “In the world that we live in now, having moved to AEM, we have so much more autonomy to manage the website and the content in the way that we need to and at the speed we need to.”

From an IT perspective, moving to AEM meant Amanda’s team could retire the existing websites. She focused on improving the platform’s underlying foundation and improving security and interoperability overall. And the autonomy Barbara enjoys is a bonus to Pathward’s IT team too.

Empowering workers one at a time

For years, Tara Whittaker managed Pathward’s websites. A veteran digital and content marketer, Tara is a word person but could write a little code, an invaluable skill particularly when maintenance requests bottlenecked. Even with her coding skills, making minor changes to the website was a cumbersome process.

For organizations like Pathward, people like Tara are gold. They are the connective tissue between the business’s ambitions and the organization’s ability to communicate them to the world. They know the processes, the risks, and the hurdles that stand between a project kickoff and its successful launch. In a very real way, the Taras are the people Slalom seeks to empower the most with marketing technology.

“Enablement is a key focus of ours from day one,” explains Trevor Keintz, the global lead for Slalom’s Adobe practice. “Success isn't whether they have a website. It’s whether they can do this work themselves.”

Enablement is a key focus of ours from day one. Success isn’t whether they have a website. It’s whether they can do this work themselves.

business man talking to coworkers
woman on computer

What Slalom delivered:

  • A website that could be updated quickly, autonomously, and without risking compliance or security

  • New processes and solutions that reduced complexity for mundane tasks and expanded modern marketing capabilities

  • Training and documentation, including a bespoke tool kit to make AEM more plug-and-play friendly

“Slalom really helped us modernize and streamline our processes. They could have just said, ‘Here is a cookie-cutter solution we can do for you guys in the time allowed,’ but they did not,” Tara recalls. “They really helped us make our site exactly what we wanted.”

The next chapter

In the four months following launch, Pathward.com garnered 300,000 sessions with a conversion rate of nearly 10%, far outperforming the 2% to 5% industry standard. Now, Barbara and Tara can turn their attention to automation.

The success of Pathward.com has prompted new conversations about the role of marketing at Pathward.

“It allows us to have more meaningful conversations with the business lines about how we can collaborate, what tools we can use together, and how it all plays into one interconnected ecosystem,” explains Barbara, adding that she has embraced a newfound autonomy and agility. “AEM has allowed us to think a little bit bigger about what could be.”

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