Ionis peeks behind the science with first official branding—30 years after its founding

Ionis Pharma Twitter Image for Brand Launch
Ionis tells the story of its passion and people as it readies for expected pipeline maturations. (Ionis)

Ionis has a long-standing reputation for being science-driven, but in its 30-year history, the company had never told its own story. That is, until now, with the debut of its first brand initiative.


The Ionis logo was reworked with wings that now sprout from its mid-letter N, and its website has been completely redone to tell the story and mission of the people and patients behind the company. The branding comes at a key point in Ionis' history, with two drugs now on the market, but another 40 in the pipeline.

Roslyn Patterson, Ionis VP of corporate communications, said when she first started looking at Ionis’ website and materials, it was clear that the company was hard-core scientific and innovation drive, but she did not get a sense of the pervasive spirit of Ionis. In the hallways of the company, she said, you meet and talk to dedicated people who are driven by the commitment to the sick people that count on them.

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“If we can help, we do. On the previous website, you would have been challenged to find a patient or a patient story or really anything that was reflective of what we do here on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Ionis has two drugs—Biogen-shared spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza and Tegsedi to treat hATTR amyloidosis—on the market, and another 40 working their way through the clinic. Four of those are in or nearing pivotal studies in 2019, and as many as 10 more will be in the next two years.

For Ionis, the branding helps to establish and distinguish itself. It does have several Big Pharma partnerships—including deals with Biogen, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson—in several areas of drug development, but it has some products of its own as well. Its $1 billion deal with Biogen in neurology, on the heels of the successful deal for Spinraza, for instance, allows Biogen to pick up some of Ionis’ drugs, but the company maintains others.

The overall goal of the branding effort was to take charge of the narrative and share with the outside world who the people of Ionis and the patients they help are and what they’re passionate about. Along with the website, the effort features a social media campaign and digital video ads. The digital work is hashtagged #TransformedByYes.

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The wings on the N in the Ionis logo have a secondary meaning connected to the “Yes” tagline. They are designed to look like the beginning of a Y that stands for yes. As Patterson said, a lot of scientists and researchers have grown up at Ionis and they “appreciate and thrive in the culture of yes.”

“People are connected by stories and people are moved by stories,” she said. “It’s coincidental that this happened at 30 years in our history, but there is no better time. We’ve reached an inflection point.”