Why J&J rebranded its iconic logo


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For more than 135 years, Johnson & Johnson’s logo remained unchanged, with the familiar, looping red script adorning its products — from Band-Aids and baby shampoo to medicines and medical devices.

However, that iconic logo is no more. Just a few weeks after J&J spun off its consumer health business into the standalone company Kenvue, the healthcare giant unveiled a new logo and brand identity that it says better aligns with its future.

“Johnson & Johnson’s brand transformation marks a new era for the company, which is now exclusively focused on healthcare innovation and tackling the toughest health challenges,” Vanessa Broadhurst, Johnson & Johnson’s executive vice president, global corporate affairs, told PharmaVoice via email. “As part of this effort, the company is uniting both its MedTech and pharmaceutical segments under the Johnson & Johnson brand name to demonstrate its collective power in healthcare.”

In addition to the new logo, J&J’s pharmaceutical segment, Janssen, has been renamed Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine, which Broadhurst said, “better conveys the relationship and our focus on addressing the most complex diseases in the areas of oncology, immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular, pulmonary hypertension, and retina and to develop the potential medicines of tomorrow.”

Its medical technology segment is still known as Johnson & Johnson MedTech.

What’s behind the image reboot for one of the largest pharma companies in the world? 

An industry of reinvention

J&J is hardly alone in giving its brand a refresh.

Many pharma companies have leveraged rebrands, said David Paragamian, CEO of the healthcare communications firm Health Monitor Network and a pharma marketing instructor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. His healthcare career has also included stints at Johnson & Johnson-McNeil Consumer Healthcare and the ad agency Razorfish Health.

J&J logo

J&J’s new logo

Permission granted by Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine

 

“Pharma is the most prolific re-brander versus other verticals,” he said.

Whereas a consumer products company like Procter & Gamble can leverage a brand’s identity for decades — the company’s hallmark detergent Tide was introduced in 1946, for example — pharma is fighting against the “patent clock.” Even the biggest, most successful drugs in the world lose their exclusivity after a handful of years.

“Pharma branding is … high-stakes, high-speed. You’ve only got a certain amount of time,” Paragamian said. “You’re working against the clock.”

This ever-evolving landscape requires constant reinvention.

The ‘why’ behind a rebrand

Patent clocks are just one of the reasons that pharma companies are so familiar with rebranding. Companies frequently rebrand to declare a new future or to distance themselves from the past, especially in an age of rapid-fire M&As, Paragamian said.

In particular, Paragamian pointed to AbbVie, which spun out of Abbott, and Astellas Pharma as good examples of future-looking rebrands that included new company names.

“Abbott minus the diagnostics business is AbbVie because it’s about this future-leaning pipeline,” Paragamian said.


“Pharma is the most prolific re-brander versus other verticals.”

David Paragamian

CEO, Health Monitor Network


Similarly, when Yamanouchi and Fujisawa combined to form Astellas, Paragamian noted that the change was “all about the combination of their pipelines and what the new company’s going to be about.”  

Other times, though, rebrands attempt to create distance from a problematic past.

“Purdue minus Oxycontin equals Knoa Pharmaceuticals,” Paragamian said. “Valeant minus a lot of legal baggage equals Bausch Health.”  

In a statement, Purdue said establishing Knoa was part of a plan “under which Purdue will fade away.”

When it comes to Johnson & Johnson, Paragamian sees both the future and the past at play.

The company has been mired for years in various lawsuits related to claims its baby powder products containing talc cause cancer and is looking to shake off that connection. By spinning off Kenvue and combining smaller, individual brands like Janssen under a unified identity, J&J is “leaning into the high-growth future and consolidating everything in that one, big brand name,” Paragamian said.

In her emailed statement, Broadhurst also pointed to J&J’s forward-looking strategy.



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