J&J’s Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a leading global provider of in-vitro diagnostics, was organized in four distinct business units serving different segments of the market. Each business unit communicated with the market separately. The company lacked a unified value proposition and singular brand narrative to explain its overarching purpose and higher value. The company’s use of highly-technical language resonated with clinical lab professionals, but left many stakeholders unclear about its business offerings and services. Company leadership embarked on a courageous new business plan to create a new generation of diagnostics tests, capable of detecting diseases earlier than ever before, yet the company struggled with communicating that vision in a compelling manner.
Company leadership threw its support behind a research-driven organizational branding initiative, a first in the history of this business. In-house communication leadership, working with external agencies, launched and led the initiative, which involved galvanizing support for the effort throughout company executives at all levels. Deliverables included research and insights to understand the company’s brand equity and attributes; identification of the company’s core brand idea; development of a brand narrative; a refresh of the company’s visual identity and supporting language; and creation of imagery to reflect and express the company’s higher value to public health and society at large.
Following the formal launch of the brand initiative, internal surveys reported stunning increases in employee engagement and company-wide support for leadership and its new business strategy. Veteran employees said the effort helped them reconnect with the importance of the business and its role in global public health. Concurrently, OCD enjoyed year-after-year achievements of its aggressive business plan targets. Internal stakeholders at J&J corporate, taken by OCD’s bold business strategy and compelling narrative, positioned the company prominently in investor relations events, corporate publications and internal communications, all of which contributed to a sense of cultural renewal and vibrancy at this once stoic, hard-to-understand, scientifically-based business.
Illustration by the New York Times,
"Can Johnson & Johnson Get Its Act Together?" Jan. 15, 2011
With major shifts taking place in the reimbursement landscape for Johnson & Johnson and other health care companies, CEO William Weldon began taking steps to contend with J&J’s vast, global infrastructure. One such initiative focused on centralizing the company’s global supply chain networks under a singular management team and a new organization called Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain (JJSC). For highly-decentralized J&J, the creation of JJSC signaled a significant change for the business. As with companies of all sizes, change never comes easy.
As the new supply chain operating model launched, the company began to experience an unprecedented number of product recalls across its consumer and pharmaceutical divisions. Negative press coverage and Congressional hearings about the recalls played out over months, complicating the successful roll-out of the new supply chain operating model.
While a comprehensive, change management communication plan was in place to support the rollout of JJSC, the plan had to be adjusted to address the realities of the unfolding product recall crisis. The revised plan doubled-down on internal stakeholder engagement, especially with business unit leaders whose products were affected by the recalls.
Today, almost 10 years after its launch, JJSC remains in place and has achieved many of its original strategic, operational and financial goals. Current J&J CEO Alex Gorsky refers to the JJSC operating model as a prime example of what “enlightened decentralization” needs to look like for J&J. Regarding product recalls of that time, root causes were identified and addressed in full cooperation with regulatory bodies. Affected brands recovered in sales and market share. And, despite present day issues and challenges, J&J has maintained its reputation for being one of the most valued, trusted companies in the world.