Ortho: Bringing New Blood to a 75-Year-Old Start-Up

First, we pioneered in vitro diagnostics. Then we became a Kodak company. Then a J&J company. So what would the next chapter bring?

This was a common question in 2014 when Ortho became an independent company. The industry questioned whether Ortho could sustain itself post J&J. Customers wondered if Ortho would still be a key player moving forward. Ortho employees themselves faced an identity crisis.

The keen vision of the new CEO and executive leadership team included forming a Global Brand and Communications team to stand up Ortho as an independent brand. This entailed establishing unique brand relevance with key stakeholders—investors, employees, customers and industry KOLs.

With “Reimagining What’s Possible” as a core message, I quickly went to work interpreting how to bring it to life as a brand identity and a consistent suite of true end-to-end brand experiences. Creating a proprietary library of globally representative corporate and product photography was a priority, so it was time to depart from the previous style of using stock photos of patients and NEVER showing people with the product. I captured our key audience—lab professionals—“improving and saving lives” using Ortho products and services. I also established and socialized a strong foundation of tools and assets, including brand guidelines, an icon library, collateral and presentation templates, corporate ads, internal communications templates, social media visual identity and an office design guide—all supported by custom training materials.

But reinvigorating the Ortho brand was more than a creative challenge. To truly succeed, we needed to reimagine every employee and customer brand experience. I joined the CRC team of reviewers to ensure that brand compliance was elevated to the level of Legal and Regulatory globally. I also worked with various COE teams to ensure their functionality, engagement and output was consistent with what you would expect from a "trusted advisor."

To help our internal audience connect with the new Ortho brand, I created the brand ambassador initiative “We’re Reimagining What’s Possible.” Working with Internal Communications, we launched monthly highlights via the company intranet featuring teams of all levels and disciplines telling their stories of how they “reimagined” their work. Stories ranged from establishing new patents to improving processes to providing a better customer experience. It became one of the most popular content types on our intranet and won an IABC Gold Quill Award.

Externally, I drove initiatives to improve the brand experience of our customers. Revisiting our RFP response approach resulted in a streamlined process for respondents as well as truly branded and more user-friendly replies for customers. Next, establishing an improved issues communication system led to happier customers who overwhelmingly responded to our new approach. In parallel, I worked with External Communications to revamp our website to deliver a more relevant brand experience.

Within 3 years of standing up the new independent Ortho brand, Ortho steadily increased its NPS rating and garnered coveted global industry awards for customer service, functional excellence, innovation and brand renovation.