We chat to McKesson's Director of Brand Design about how her design team has stayed connected and productive throughout the pandemic.
How do you drive an effective design team culture while navigating working from home as the new normal, managing stakeholder expectations, and delivering what’s best for your customers? By staying connected and inspired, continually improving processes, and using the right tools, says McKesson‘s Director of Brand Design, Rebecah Beauchamp.
McKesson, a US healthcare provider, supplies branded, generic and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to more than 40,000 customers. Throughout the pandemic, their brand has played a key role in not only delivering services and supplies, but providing care, support and credible information to their customers and patients.
As industry leaders with a strong focus on values and positive impacts, the way McKesson does business is just as important as the business itself. Unified by their global I²CARE Values, the McKesson team continually strives to fulfill their mission to provide exceptional healthcare outcomes, and uphold the brand’s reputation for trust and partnership.
McKesson has been around for over a hundred years, and – despite all the design trends that have come and gone – the company’s branding and visual identity has remained consistent, relevant and modern, even in the midst of a global crisis. So how do the custodians of the brand do it?
At Envato, we love finding out how creative teams tick. We sat down with Rebecah to talk through her role as McKesson’s Director of Brand Design, what goes into building a strong, resilient, 200-year-old brand, as well as how her team of designers use Envato’s creative subscription, Elements, to create and collaborate with their internal clients.
I carve my day into three buckets:
We have several audiences to consider. Our external audience is primarily B2B in the healthcare profession. For this audience, it’s imperative to have clear and concise communications with little room for superfluous design elements. We focus most of our energy ensuring the content is scannable and accessible at first glance. We do quite a few infographics and reports for this audience. To maximize engagement on important initiatives, we use platforms like Ceros to build dynamic interactive experiences to drive lead generation.
Our final audience to consider is our internal audience. We’re still working out how to differentiate our employer brand so that it aligns better with our internal culture. At McKesson, you’ll find passionate employees who rally behind helping patients get the medicines and therapies they need. We are currently redefining how we speak and appear to our internal audience versus the professional tone required for our customer interactions.
We’re working to break down silos in the business so all touchpoints present a consistent experience. The biggest challenge is when a business partner hires an external agency to create something that doesn’t adhere to our brand standards. Ideally, as designers, we’re brought in early to onboard agencies and review their work at key milestones. Often we don’t see assets until they’re delivered and, unfortunately, that creates additional work to bring the project in alignment with the rest of our brand.
Currently, we’re introducing a new tool to ensure consistency across presentations. A majority of our communications are done through sales decks and, though we create presentation templates, these can go off brand easily. Our solution is a platform called Empower. It enables us to automate brand checks on presentations before they’re shown to customers and puts the most recent slides in our stakeholders’ hands.
We do very little print advertising and focus our budget on paid media placement, thought leadership content and online interactive experiences. Again, Ceros is a tool that has allowed our team to create dynamic content for our main site, as well as microsites. With digital, analysing performance is much easier and we’re able to see an impact faster than traditional media.
Our biggest challenge has been the need for relevant photography with the restriction of not being able to travel or shoot new content. We rely on photography to tell the story of impact at the point of need in a patient or healthcare provider’s story. We’ve had to rely on retouching existing images to add masks or using one model per shot to account for social distancing. We’ve worked with more stock photography over the past year than we’ve allowed in the past.
It depends on the project, but I like to start with pen and paper. I make note of all associations with the topic, related words and then mine for metaphors and similes. Then I do a deep dive into all of the associations generated and see what relevant information comes along in online searches, the thesaurus and image searches. My favorite places to see great work are still Communication Arts, Ad Age, Muse by Clio, Fast Company Co-Design and AIGA. There are so many other tools I use to stay abreast of the design trends – Muzli, Brand New, Dieline and awards sites. When I have a particular problem of how to visualize a certain component, I’ll look to Noun Project, Envato, or illustration agencies. And of course, my inspiration comes from every interaction in the world around me – art galleries, at the gym, in the grocery store or on a walk.
The biggest change has been adapting to working remotely as an organization. The lines become blurred between work and life until you reach a point where you need to put boundaries in place. I created a separate room in the house that I go to for work and leave behind at the end of the day.
One of the most challenging but fulfilling pieces has been finding new ways of staying connected with my teammates and peers. We were a new team at the beginning of the pandemic due to a headquarters move. We didn’t have the relational equity needed for fully remote connection.
We’ve had to foster good-will and understanding amongst the team with more frequent check-ins, more team-building culture activities, and using Teams (with the requisite gifs) to maintain connection. We plan to continue remote-work while using the office as a destination for learning events, planning and collaboration meetings and team building.