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Our Take: J&J to rename Janssen Pharmaceuticals as part of its branding update

Sep 18, 2023

With the Kenvue consumer health spinoff winding down, Johnson & Johnson is turning its focus to a rebranding effort, which includes a new logo for the company and a new name for its Janssen Pharmaceuticals business segment. 

“Uniting our diverse businesses under an updated Johnson & Johnson brand reflects our unique ability to reimagine health care through transformative innovation, while staying true to Our Credo values and the level of care that patients and doctors expect of us,” CEO Joaquin Duato said in a press statement.

While the company’s medical device segment will keep the name it was given last year, Johnson & Johnson MedTech, the Janssen Pharmaceuticals segment will be renamed Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine so that it’s “more connected to” the J&J brand. 

The company is also introducing a new logo. It’s still the Johnson & Johnson name, but instead of the familiar cursive font used since the company started selling its earliest products in 1887 (which, incidentally, resembled the signature of co-founder James Wood Johnson), the new logo features a modern font in a brighter shade of red.

The changes will be rolled out across the company’s product packaging, corporate materials, and branding assets over time.

Our Take: It’s always a risk when such a well-known company starts tinkering with its public identity, but in this case, Johnson & Johnson isn’t straying too far. 

Even though the company’s original logo is one of the most recognized in the world, the updated logo is merely a more contemporary take. And, rebranding the Janssen segment to reflect the J&J name will only strengthen the J&J brand. 

Frankly, it’s surprising that J&J kept the Janssen name as long as it did, though the decision to do so was, at least in part, most likely out of respect for the man behind the name. 

In 1961, Johnson & Johnson bought a Belgian pharmaceutical research company founded by Dr. Paul Janssen and renamed it Janssen Pharmaceutica NV in 1964. J&J then folded several subsequent acquisitions into the Janssen business unit, including Centocor Biotech in 1999 (which later merged with Ortho Biotech and was eventually renamed Janssen Biotech), Crucell in 2011 (later renamed Janssen Vaccines), and Actelion in 2017. 

This progression demonstrates J&J’s efforts to consolidate its pharmaceutical business under the Janssen name over the course of the last couple of decades. Shifting from Janssen to the Johnson & Johnson brand is the next logical step.

J&J isn’t the only prominent drug company to undergo identity changes in recent years. Some were relatively minor, like Bristol Myers Squibb eliminating the hyphen in its name in 2020 (though the company also redid its logo at the same time). 

Pfizer launched a new logo as well, as a component of its rebranding campaign in 2021. 

GSK made a bolder change in 2022, dropping GlaxoSmithKline as its official name in favor of the more widely used GSK. The company also redesigned its logo, giving it a more digital look.

And although Sanofi dropped the -Aventis part of its name back in 2011 after announcing plans to acquire Genzyme, it, too, undertook a rebranding initiative in 2022, unifying the Sanofi Pasteur and Sanofi Genzyme business units under the single Sanofi name and introducing a new logo.

Will Johnson & Johnson eventually become officially just J&J? That’s unlikely — and probably a step too far. 

Disclosure: Johnson & Johnson is a Darwin Research Group client.

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