ITL #351 Henry Schein: delivering a brand story across language and cultural barriers1 year, 9 months ago
Health care solutions provider Henry Schein works hard to ensure consistency in the way its “Rely on us” brand promise is delivered internationally. By Ann Marie Gothard.
Building a globally recognizable brand requires a foundation of values, character, ethics, and integrity, all of which are essential elements of its brand identity. A brand’s logo and other graphic assets represent it at the very highest level and act as identifiers for who the company or organization is and what it stands for. Along with messaging, they should always be consistent components in any communications, and are vitally important to understanding a company’s brand story.
At Henry Schein, Inc., for example, our brand promise of “Rely on Us” is based on 87 years of helping health care practitioners run better businesses so they can focus on the health of their patients. And we have a strong performance history to back up our brand promise, with sales from continuing operations of $9.4 billion in 2018.
Henry Schein is the world’s largest provider of health care solutions to office-based dental and medical practitioners, connecting more than 3,000 suppliers each day with more than 1 million customers in 32 countries around the world.
“Rely on Us” embodies our drive to positively impact health around the world by aligning our strengths as a business with the needs of society. Even with a well-defined mission and brand promise, however, it’s a challenge for the approximately 19,000 members of Team Schein to deliver a consistent brand story across language and cultural barriers.
In response, the Corporate Communications team works to achieve brand consistency by establishing procedures to enhance collaboration with Global Marketing and various business divisions, issuing editorial guidelines, conducting tutorials on content development, and pushing back—when necessary—to protect the brand.
Synchronizing PR across the globe
To protect and enhance its reputation, Henry Schein, a FORTUNE 500 company, relies on a small corporate communications team responsible for executive communications, internal communications, integrated marketing (social media), and media relations. The team handles this work entirely in-house, engaging occasionally with an outside advisor on content strategy and message management related to crisis and litigation issues.
Based in the company’s global headquarters in Melville, New York, the team is responsible for developing and executing a global PR strategy, as well as local implementation for all North America business units. An international team based in Hamburg, Germany, supports business units in Europe and South Africa, and local offices in Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Latin America, handle the local implementation of the global PR strategy.
Collectively, these teams provide a voice in the marketplace, support global marketing and brand strategies with a comprehensive PR approach, and use their media relationships to maximize visibility for Henry Schein's portfolio of products and services. Coordination between with our in-house experts is key to supporting the “Rely on Us” brand promise. These PR pros are the content creators and messengers for high-quality content that is on-brand and on-message, all in support of the company’s financial, operational, and business objectives.
Speaking a common language
To leverage the collective strength of the Henry Schein brand around the world, and to consistently communicate our brand promise of “Rely on Us,” it is vitally important that we speak a common language in the markets where we operate. For example, Henry Schein Dental operates in 14 European countries. Speaking to key stakeholders in their native languages is a major part of our multilingual public relations strategy, making our content more relevant, and Henry Schein more credible.
Expert press release translation, therefore, is a must. Because dental terminology is specific and, at times, highly technical, we use translators who are industry experts and specialize in health care. We also created editorial guidelines, which allows for translation as well as transcreation, enabling the translator to inject their cultural knowledge, thereby allowing us to produce content that resonates with our target audience. In the end, we generate press materials that are localized, yet maintain our brand voice and style, regardless of the language.
Establishing a workflow with continuous process improvements
While steadfast in our efforts to achieve brand consistency in our press materials, we recognize that it takes more than cascading company-wide key messages to reinforce our brand identity. We’ve learned that a defined workflow, with continuous process improvements, is the key for success.
In 2016, we instituted R.P.M. (Request for Press Materials) to help reinforce the consistent delivery of “Rely on Us.” R.P.M. is an automated workflow designed to expedite the production and distribution of press materials and to ensure materials are consistent with our brand message and conform with all necessary legal and regulatory requirements. Although this created an orderly approach for incorporating “Rely on Us” in press materials, it did not address the gap in sales and marketing materials.
The Henry Schein Global Marketing Hub (Hub) was created to minimize this gap. The Hub is a sharing platform that serves as a central depository for approved corporate messaging and many other assets that facilitate the communication of Henry Schein’s brand.
Access to the Hub has led to greater adoption and integration of “Rely on Us” messaging. In fact, the brand guidelines and “Rely on Us” playbooks are the most viewed pages and downloaded documents in the Hub, followed by a curated collection of corporate communications materials.
The actions we have taken and the processes we have put in place have contributed to strengthening our efforts to build a globally recognizable brand. In the end, we want our stakeholders to know that “Rely on Us” stands for our knowledgeable and collaborative network of trusted advisors—the people who are committed to delivering information, education, and consultation on the business, clinical, technology, and supply chain solutions we offer. This is the unifying message in sharing Henry Schein’s brand story.
Ann Marie Gothard joined Henry Schein, Inc., as Vice President, Corporate Media Relations in February 2016. She leads all strategic media relations for the company’s corporate brand, including its core business units – dental, medical, and technology and value-added services, as well as Henry Schein Cares, the company’s global corporate social responsibility program. A seasoned communications professional, Ann Marie’s experience in the health care industry spans nearly two decades, across sectors, and geographies.
Ann Marie Gothard joined Henry Schein, Inc., as Vice President, Corporate Media Relations in February 2016. She leads all strategic media relations for the company’s corporate brand, including its core business units – dental, medical, and technology and value-added services, as well as Henry Schein Cares, the company’s global corporate social responsibility program. A seasoned communications professional, Ann Marie’s experience in the health care industry spans nearly two decades, across sectors, and geographies.mail the author
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