Bristol Myers Squibb debuts branding update with less hyphen, more purple

Bristol Myers Squibb unveiled its new corporate identity this week. Gone is the old blue logo, geometric glyph and hyphenated name. The new BMS logo, meant to symbolize the company BMS has become, includes a purple hand graphic followed by the company name in a modern san serif font custom-created for Bristol Myers Squibb.

The change comes on the heels of BMS' $74 billion acquisition of Celgene, which was completed in November. However, BMS had been considering the update for some time, well before the Celgene deal, said Kathryn Metcalfe, BMS executive VP of corporate affairs. The last time Bristol Myers Squibb redid its logo was in the 1980sthe blue geometric symbol stood for six major business lines and 12 secondary businesses, many of which the company no longer has.

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“This was really much more about the BMS we are today and the BMS that we will be in the future, more than any individual transaction or deal that was done,” she said, adding that “the Celgene deal made it even more clear that our identity didn’t match who we are and what we aspire to do.”

Metcalfe explained that the hand image was chosen to represent giving and receiving care, and a focus on the outcomes for patients. Purple, the color of passion and compassion, was chosen for similar human care reasons.

The new identity is “compassionate, very human, very people and patient-focused in an area where there are lots of more science-based marks and identities,” she said.

"Our brand fully embodies our vision and embraces our commitment of compassionate science and putting patients first," CEO Giovanni Caforio said in a statement on the company's website.

While the logo may be the most visible sign of change, the company’s websites, social media and even buildings around the world are updating as well. BMS’ Twitter account @bmsnews, for instance, features the purple hand as its photo.

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BMS worked with Siegel+Gale and internal marketing experts on the project. They did extensive research around the world, including with 200 healthcare professionals across therapeutic categories.

Both internal and external reaction to the new identity has been overwhelmingly positive, Metcalfe said. At Bristol Myers Squibb headquarters Thursday for events revealing the new corporate brand, many staffers wore purple to celebrate the change and show support. People donned purple scarves, shirts, pants and shoes, as Metcalfe described the scene of purple everywhere.

“People are really excited for something that’s modern and more reflective of who we are. In many ways, this is a way of our identity catching up to our people,” she said.