Pharma Web Branding, Part 3 – J&J

This is the third in a series on home page design for pharma companies (an industry where I have a lot of interest and involvement). Today – J&J. A company with many admirable qualities. Though, the home page is not necessarily one of them!

The Johnson & Johnson home page simply has too much going on. The immediate visceral reaction is one of being overwhelmed – there are so many features and sections that the effect is not to draw in, but repel.

Furthermore, there is a poor use of space, as a large open white field is left unused to the right (not shown in the graphic below), which is assuming smaller monitor sizes than perhaps the vast majority of the population now uses. Therefore, the site feels even more “cramped” than it should due to a compressed layout.


This is what I’d call a “working” interface – that is, you’re going to be working to find what it is you want! Now J&J is a big, multi-faceted company, with a bunch of operating companies, and that makes the challenge of an intuitive interface even tougher. But a jumble is not the answer.

What would I do differently? The one thing that ties of all J&J together is its (rightly renowned) Credo, and I’d make that the dominant feature in the site, since that is a key J&J corporate differentiator. Right now, it’s referenced in a section to the left – I’d make it front-and-center, and have different sections of it show up on a rotating basis. Then, as a key “storytelling” part of the site, I’d feature different ways – both internally (with employees) and externally (with clients) – that the Credo has had its impact. One well-known instance is the Tylenol recall of days past.

Because there are so many audiences, operating companies, and products, I think I’d want to create a sophisticated navigation widget that starts with the question, What are you looking for? Then, based on some main choices and sub-choices (to pinpoint who the user is, what therapeutic area or product they want to know about, etc.) the user would be directed to one or more relevant destinations.

I’d also break up the main page into “main theme” centers – Investor Center, Career Center, Company Center, Product Center, News Center, Community Center – and more logically range many of the choices now scattered all over the home page into sub-pages for each center.

There are many good information streams here. The big gap is confusing arrangement. With some creative information design, this site could be a whole lot more appealing.

Some Great Branding Posts this Morning

Head on over to John Moore’s Brand Autopsy site for a very interesting article, with links, about Wal-Mart’s perceived brand difficulties (from a “leaked” brand positioning report).

Then, from Mike Wagner’s Own Your Brand, a striking tale about how one broken brand promise can have very immediate, negative, multiplied consequences.

Logo Trends – Take a Look

Very cool spot to see the latest trends in logo design (LogoLounge). You can also see the trends from past years. Pretty neat stuff!

Here’s another interesting site. If you know of other good “let’s look at logos” sites, please add them to the comments!

Getting it Done

I have a new post up on the Small Business Branding site, focusing on a new marketing campaign by Citi (“Let’s Get it Done”). Your comments and insights would be welcome…

Blogroll Updated After Long Neglect

After putting together the Marketing Bloggers portal, which contains over 100 feeds from bloggers spanning the marketing/branding/advertising field, I realized that I had thoroughly neglected my own blogroll on StickyFigure. Some of you have kindly linked to me, and I have been negligent in reciprocating – mea culpa!

So, as of today, here’s my updated list of blogs I turn to most often for inspiration and instruction (and a few good laughs!):

Brains on Fire

Brand Autopsy

Brand Corral

Brand Flakes for Breakfast

Branding Strategy Insider

(this space left intentionally blank) BrandingWire

Chaos Scenario

Chris Brown’s Branding and Marketing Blog

CK’s Blog

Conversation Agent



Coudal Partners

Customers Rock!

Dave Young’s Branding Blog

Diva Marketing

Drew’s Marketing Minute

Duct Tape Marketing

Greg Verdino

Guy Kawasaki

Jaffe Juice

L&G Business Solutions

Logic and Emotion

Made to Stick

Marketing Profs: Daily Fix

Marketing Technology (Douglas Karr)



My 2 Cents


One Reader at a Time

Personal Branding (William Arruda)

Servant of Chaos

Seth Godin

Small Business Branding (where I also enjoy contributing!)

Social Media Marketing

Strategic Public Relations


The Brand Builder

The Branding Blog

The Lonely Marketer

The Name Inspector

The Origin of Brands

The Power to Connect (Todd And)

The Viral Garden

Whisper Brand

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Give Me a Break, Sheikh

There it was, on the back page of the first section of this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

A very colorful, visually “grabby” full-page ad from a sheikh announcing his new foundation. Now I don’t know how much it cost to put a full-page ad in the WSJ, but I do know that if the goal was to actually communicate valuable information, then every dollar was wasted.

Here is what the ad says:

10 Billion Dollars

Contributing to the Development of Knowledge and Culture

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the establishment of his foundation with an endowment of 10 billion dollars, focusing on human development in the region. The foundation will facilitate and promote knowledge creation and dissemination, and will nurture future leaders, providing them with equal opportunities with the aim of building a knowledge-based society.


Based on the “information” contained in this boast self-aggrandizing commercial full-page ad, I now have no answers, but I do have an awful lot of questions. To wit:

1. “human development” – what does that mean?

2. “the region” – what region?

3. “knowledge creation and dissemination” – that could mean one hundred things, not all of them good. What is it?

4. “future leaders” – of what sort?

5. “equal opportunities” – for whom?

6. “knowledge-based society” – such as? Which knowledge?

7. “culture” – not all cultures are to be applauded. What culture is to be developed here?

Not to be crass or cynical, but this foundation could be doing anything from establishing classical schooling opportunities for underprivileged females throughout the Middle East, to training and knowledge-equipping terrorist leaders in Afghanistan. Or anything in between. I’d really like to know what “knowledge” and “development” is being envisioned in whatever “region” this is. And this full-page ad miserably fails to communicate that.

Let’s face it – post 9/11, Arab leaders have a tough audience here in the U.S. It’s a real branding/marketing problem. This kind of nebulous language won’t score any P.R. points. If this foundation were to forthrightly speak of combating terrorist brainwashing and anti-everyone-but-us hate education with some very concrete initiatives to create a more civilized society, I’d be all ears. Particularly if it was followed with action. As it is, all I see is a clumsy marketing effort for the sheikh to promote himself with his (I assume) oil riches, and dodge any specifics. Sorry – that’s a non-starter.

I went to the URL specified to see if more light was to be gained. Nope – more high-sounding generalities.sheikh_web.jpg

You know, sometimes I just don’t get it. Why would anyone spend such money to say…nothing?

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Behind the Curtain

Drew McLellan recently posted a photo that captures something less “formal” about himself, based on the meme started by David Airey, encouraging bloggers to let others see more of the “face behind the blog.”

As one who grew up in New England, my default setting is to generally have a curtain between my professional and personal lives. But I feel a little Toto pulling at the curtain, so what the hey – it is, after all, the Share Economy

Right now, outside of work, a whole bunch of my time and effort goes into being a husband and father, as well as maintaining/improving our home. The other 16.5 minutes of “me” time per week goes to…well, let’s hope I can resurrect those hobbies some day in the future!

Here are my two “middle” sons (#3 & 4 out of 5) on a recent father/son retreat:


Most mornings, my Fiver hops up into my lap at precisely 7 am for a “Big Kitty” story with Dad, who has generally been up already for 1-2 hours but looks pretty bedraggled still:



The boys get their looks from the Lovely and Talented Queen, whose mother will be glad to tell you where she got HER looks from!


We’ve spent the last 7 years slowly and steadily improving our little Eden in North Jersey. We’re amateurs, but we enjoy creating an English garden feel, and I have particularly enjoyed building stone walls.back-of-house.jpg


Someday, I hope to find more time to take scenic pictures. Two of these shots were from a glorious morning heading to the hospital the day after our fifth son was born; the other from a recent visit to a lake that had a bit too much rain to process!ml_reflect1b.jpg



My dream is to eventually live with my bride on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, in a house big enough to accommodate a steady stream of visitors (and, Lord willing, a large number of grandchildren – eventually!)

So, that’s a peek behind the StickyFigure curtain here in Boonton, NJ. What about you?