In 2014, executives at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs identified a promising new growth opportunity: consumer lending. The firm had long focused on high–net worth individuals and business clients, but the outlook for these businesses was somewhat troubled. Expanding into a new segment, consumer lending, could provide incremental growth.1
The problem, however, was that the Goldman Sachs brand was not ideal for consumer banking. Dustin Cohn, head of brand management and communications, explained the problem: “When you called it ‘Goldman Sachs,’ consumers said, ‘Well, I’ve heard of Goldman Sachs, but that’s not for me—that’s for wealthy people and institutions.”2 The other problem was that offering small consumer loans might damage the Goldman Sachs brand’s reputation as a partner for wealthy families and corporate titans.
Goldman resolved this issue by introducing a new brand, Marcus, to offer personal loans and savings accounts to individuals. The firm used a brand endorsement structure, calling the new firm Marcus by Goldman Sachs to tap into the power of the Goldman brand. Since the launch in 2016, Marcus has grown rapidly; by 2018 Marcus had more than 1.5 million customers and had made $3 billion in loans.3
Goldman’s move to introduce a new endorsed brand is a perfect example of a brand portfolio decision. These portfolio moves are complicated and important. In some respects, managing a portfolio is branding’s ...