Build trust with First Dollar’s white-label solutions for benefits

A review of best practices for branded benefits and First Dollar's solutions.

You probably don’t rush to pick up the phone when “Unknown Caller” shows up on your home screen. Yet, benefits with inconsistent branding create a similar jarring experience, making customers ask, “Who’s administering my benefit?”

In this post, we'll discuss the origin of the term “white label,” best practices for white labeling, First Dollar's branding options, and how white labeling can complement embedded benefits.

White labeling 101

White labeling often references any customization or strategy where a creator repackages their product for a client, but there are many ways that a product can be branded for clients.

doritios  + Taco Bell symbol + taco
Taco Bell's Doritos® Locos Tacos? An excellent example of co-branding.

Co-branding features both brands.

A co-branded product intentionally features the branding and logo of both the manufacturer and the buyer. Taco Bell's partnership with Doritos to create Doritos® Locos Tacos is a good example. This late-night food creation featured both brands and, with over a billion tacos sold, has been quite successful.

coffe beans bag next to Starbucks bag next to Kirkland bag
Starbucks re-brands its coffee beans to be sold under the Kirkland label.

Re-branding exclusively features the brand of the buyer.

A re-branded product exclusively features the brand of the buyer. An excellent example is how Costco sells Starbucks beans to its customers under the Costco Kirkland brand. Re-branding allows Costco to sell good quality coffee beans without developing the resources needed to source beans. It also enables Starbucks to sell its coffee beans to people outside its stores.

Note: White labeling generally references any branding solution, but it's most commonly referenced for re-branded products. 

white record label with a question mark next to a white record
For promotional use, early records were shared with a white label.

The origin of "white label"

During the heyday of vinyl records, record companies wanted disk jockeys (DJs) to play their upcoming album releases over the radio, so people got excited about buying the records. For simplicity and because the display art was often incomplete, some record companies only used white sleeves for the pre-release records they sent to radio stations. That's how "white label" was born.

It’s all about the customer experience

White labeling is more than changing the logo on a package or a website. A truly re-branded or co-branded product will account for all customer interactions, so they don't experience the following situations:

  • Receiving an email from an unknown sender saying about their health savings account (HSA)
  • Noticing different branding colors on the benefit provider's website than on their mobile app
  • Being told to contact an unknown company for customer support 

A branding solution's goal should be to belong within an existing user experience; it's more than just changing the logo on the home screen. Here are some principles that technology-forward companies should employ to ensure their custom-branded benefits fit their user experience from end to end.

Employ Single Sign-On (SSO), APIs, and widgets

Wait, why is my benefits provider asking me to make a new username for my benefit? Didn’t I already create a login for them?

If you're under the impression that your benefits provider is offering a benefit, it's hard to understand why you have to create a new login in a new portal—you already made one! For this reason, re-branded benefits should employ SSO, APIs, and widgets when applicable. By appropriately leveraging these tools, users can be redirected to the appropriate dashboard or app while logged into their benefit provider's portal or never leave, making for a seamless user experience and a genuinely re-branded product. 

Leverage templatized emails with customized handlebars and dynamic senders 

Image of an email using handle bar to customize brand name in mail messaging.
The use of customized handlebars can help ensure brand consistency in email messaging.

Wait, who's this?

Email is essential for customer onboarding, education, and transactional communication, and it can be very jarring for customers to receive onboarding emails from an unknown company.  To avoid this scenario, benefit solution teams should enable dynamic data in their templates (e.g., handlebars and dynamic senders) so that users receive appropriately branded messaging.

Provide tiered customer support options 

Wait, why did the Benefit Company direct me to this other company to answer my questions about my benefit?

Contacting Customer Support is an integral part of the customer experience. To truly offer a streamlined customer journey, benefit infrastructure teams should provide customer support tiers that can align with the messaging of co-branded or re-branded products. Here are two principles that we’ve found to be true:

  • Benefit providers who want to lead customer support for benefits should offer full re-branded products so they can own the brand experience. 
  • Benefit providers unable to lead customer support for benefits should offer co-branded products so customers are familiar with the brand leading customer support.

First Dollar’s branding solutions: Co-branded and re-branded

Through our partnership with benefit providers, First Dollar has discovered most partners have two branding needs: a co-branding or re-branding solution.  Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Co-branded benefits

First Dollar's co-branded benefits are a great option for benefit providers who don't have the resources to lead customer support but still want to gain some brand equity. All UI (portals, apps, dashboards) and content (emails) will be branded according to the partner's style guide.

What’s different about co-branded benefits?

Co-branded benefits are a good solution for benefit providers who don't want to handle initial customer support. Instead, First Dollar will provide initial customer support. And for this reason, co-branded messaging will introduce customers to First Dollar with copy similar to "Your [Benefit Provider’s Name] HSA, powered by First Dollar."

What are the advantages of co-branded benefits?

Co-branded benefits allow customers to employ First Dollar's initial customer support and take full advantage of First Dollar's benefit education library. And because the solution is co-branded, customers can build brand equity by offering a product with their logo and branding. 

What are the disadvantages of co-branded benefits?

There are some disadvantages. Customers will learn an additional vendor name (First Dollar), which can lead to some confusion. And it's a lost opportunity for the benefit provider to own the customer benefit experience completely.

Who prefers co-branded benefits?

Co-branded benefits are ideal for customers who do not typically handle their benefits administration. A common example is a health plan looking to add a turnkey benefit solution like an HSA or FSA for additional revenue but not having a support team to help with administration.

Bright HealthCare's co-branded HSA offering, powered by First Dollar.

First Dollar co-branded benefits example

Bright Healthcare wanted to offer their employers and members a health savings account (HSA) with proven high benefit utilization, but they didn't want to lead customer support. First Dollar partnered with Bright Health to offer a co-branded HSA. Bright Health members were introduced to First Dollar and their HSA with the co-branded logo, "Bright Healthcare, powered by First Dollar" and First Dollar led and provided initial customer support for Bright customers. All interfaces and content were updated to reflect Bright Health's branding. 

Re-branded benefits

First Dollar's re-branded benefits are a great solution for benefit providers looking to build customer trust, gain brand loyalty, and own the customer experience from end to end. First Dollar's re-branded benefits can also take full advantage of all our embedded features (API endpoints, library of turnkey widgets), so customers experience a seamless benefits experience that belongs within their platform. All UI (portals, apps, dashboards) and content (emails, in-app messaging) are branded according to the partner's style guide preferences, and their logo is exclusively featured. 

What’s different about re-branded benefits?

Partners who choose to offer re-branded benefits are choosing to own the entire customer experience. Customers will only see the partner's branding and logo, and interact directly with partner customer support teams for benefit support. First Dollar's customer support team will equip partner teams with Tier Two support, with partner support teams leading customer support interactions. 

What are the advantages of re-branded benefits?

Benefit providers who choose to offer re-branded benefits from First Dollar are providing their customers the most innovative experience with a people-first design (no new names to remember) for the best overall customer experience. It also gives a great chance to build brand equity with First Dollar’s products, including our mobile app and virtual card. Benefit providers also leverage their strengths by leading customer support while taking advantage of First Dollar’s Tier 2 support for problem-solving. (And customers will appreciate not having to call multiple vendors for support.)

What are the disadvantages of re-branded benefits?

Because benefit communication must come exclusively from the point of view of the benefits provider, there is a limited ability to take advantage of First Dollar’s library of benefit education content.

Who prefers re-branded benefits?

Re-branded benefits are ideal for benefits providers who want to own the customer experience. The provider supports the other benefits they offer, and they also want to own and lead support for their customers for this additional service.

An example of a re-branded Health Wallet dashboard
An example of a re-branded Health Wallet dashboard

What's a First Dollar example of re-branded benefits?

First Dollar powers health savings accounts for a third-party administrator (TPA). As a benefits administrator, the TPA recognizes that its strength is providing customers with a one-stop service for benefits. For that reason, the TPA desired to use First Dollar's re-branded benefits solution for their HSA offering. TPA customers receive their emails from TPA, their web responsive and mobile native app are branded in TPA, and they receive customer support exclusively from TPA customer support team. To the customer, their HSA is a TPA HSA. 

table chart recapping the advantages and disadvantages of co-branded and re-branded benefits
First Dollar's co-branded and re-branded benefits

How white labeling can meet different customer needs

Due to their flexibility, First Dollar's co-branded and re-branded solutions may look different for each client. To demonstrate this, let's examine three common uses.

Re-branding the First Dollar platform

A client may want to offer an FSA to its customers but might not have a platform. No problem! First Dollar can re-brand its own platform for the client. The client will now be able to offer an FSA with all of First Dollar's features (mobile app, web platform) under the client's brand and logo. 

White labeling and embedded benefits 

White labeling and embedding are sometimes confused for being incompatible, but branding solutions can actually help ensure embedded benefits provide a truly seamless experience. 

Example: A financial institution offers retirement savings programs on its investment platform, but they also want to offer a health savings account (HSA). To provide a seamless experience, First Dollar leveraged widgets and APIs to embed its HSA product on the financial institution's platform. The institution also wanted the embedded HSA on its platform to reflect its branding. To provide a seamless, embedded experience, First Dollar custom-branded the HSA to match the financial institution's branding.

Re-brand for clients' customers

With First Dollar's brand nesting, clients can re-brand their benefits for their customers too! For example, a financial institution may want to sell an HRA product with its customers' branding. With brand nesting, First Dollar can re-brand benefits multiple times for clients to meet their customer needs. 

image of first Dollar benefits being re-used for different scenarios
How re-branded benefits can be used for embedding or re-branding for customers

Note on APIs and white labeling

The use of APIs is the ultimate form of white labeling (and embedding) as it allows clients to have full control of their member and user experience. To revisit the record analogy, APIs enable our customers to display whatever cover art they want—the music (or data) remains the same. And the experience is truly embedded as the user:

  • Never needs to create a new username
  • See a new site/URL
  • Or re-authenticate. 

With First Dollar’s API documentation, we’re excited to meet this need for customers ready to implement benefits through APIs. But we also recognize that not all clients are ready for full API integration. And that's why we offer a full spectrum of tools to meet each client's needs. 

Josh Hostetler

Josh leads content for First Dollar, a fintech company that builds infrastructure for health spending benefits. Before First Dollar, Josh led course creation at Aceable, taught First Grade, waited tables at Olive Garden, and wore many other hats. He misses the breadsticks.