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. Creating a proprietary library of globally representative corporate and product photography was a priority. Departing from the J&J edict of not showing people with products and focusing on patient imagery, I captured our key audience - lab professionals - “improving and saving lives” using Ortho products and services. I then established and socialized a strong foundation of tools and assets, including brand guidelines, icon library, collateral and presentation templates, corporate ads, internal communications templates, social media visual identity and office design guide — all supported with training materials.

To help our internal audience connect with the new Ortho brand, I created the brand ambassador initiative “We’re Reimagining What’s Possible”. Monthly highlights via the company intranet featured 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 while winning 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 lead to happier customers who overwhelmingly responded to our new approach. In parallel, an overhauled website delivered 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, innovation and brand renovation.