28 May 2024

From Blood Bank to pioneer in Data Science


In the dynamic world of healthcare and technology, Sanquin, best known to the general public as The Blood Bank, has reinvented itself as a forward-thinking data science company. This transformation, driven by the board’s ambitions, marks a significant shift in the strategy and positioning of the Sanquin brand. The goal? To make a proactive contribution to people’s health.

Strategic transformation

Sanquin’s evolution marks a shift in which the Blood Bank remains at the heart of the business but is now enhanced by advanced data analytics and biotechnological innovations. This enables Sanquin to conduct groundbreaking research and develop new blood-related products and services. This scientific efficiency drive ensures that the Blood Bank is optimally utilized and the company is better prepared for the future, without neglecting its essential role. In this way, Sanquin contributes to the improvement of patient care and the healthcare sector as a whole.

This intended transformation was what motivated Sanquin to work with Total Design to create a new branding, communication, and digital presentation.

Sanquin’s new tagline For Life is not only a brand promise but also a reflection of the organization’s commitment to life. It symbolizes the transition from reactive care (blood supply) to a much more proactive data-driven approach to health.

Sanquin’s rebranding is a strategic move that goes beyond just a visual makeover. It includes an in-depth review of the brand strategy, brand story, and brand values, focusing on innovation, reliability, and a forward-thinking vision.

The new visual identity – concept name Flow – was introduced to support the transformation. This went hand in hand with an internal culture change, encouraging employees to embrace the new direction and participate in Sanquin’s evolution.

The road to change was not without its challenges. Resistance to change, the need for new skills, and the integration of new systems were some of the obstacles Sanquin had to overcome. Thanks to determination and strategic planning, Sanquin turned these challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

A unique twist

A remarkable milestone in Sanquin’s journey is the collaboration with Telecom company Odido. This alliance, which resulted from an unexpected similarity in corporate identity, led to a powerful campaign that emphasized the need for blood donation and further strengthened Sanquin’s mission.

This issue was resolved when Sanquin acted creatively and impactfully by taking over the sponsorship rights for one FC Utrecht home game from Odido. This allowed Sanquin’s logo to be displayed on the soccer players’ jerseys, resulting in significant publicity and highlighting the urgent need for blood and plasma donors. This example powerfully illustrates how flexibility and creative solutions can lead to extraordinary results.

Lessons of success

The results of Sanquin’s transformation are significant: improved operational efficiency, a strong focus on proactive health care, and a positive shift in public perception. The organization is positioning itself as a leader in healthcare, ready to meet the challenges of the future.

Thus, Sanquin’s development highlights the importance of a strong brand strategy, the power of collaboration, and the impact of a well-executed transformation. It is also a story of innovation, adaptability, and the strength of a brand committed to its mission and values.

TD’s 10 tips for successful transformation

Every organization can learn valuable lessons from Sanquin’s success story. Here are a dozen key points that can serve as guidelines for successful transformation:

1. Show leadership: Leadership plays a key role in any transformation. Encouraging conviction from top management, such as by the CEO at that time Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi at Sanquin, is crucial to successfully implementing change.

2. Clear vision and mission: A clear vision and mission are essential. Sanquin’s ‘For Life’ mission gives direction to their transformation and helps communicate their goals to both internal and external stakeholders.

3. Involve employees in the change: Involve the organization gradually and start small with a motivated change team. Provide time, space, and mandate for the team, and avoid standard KPIs. Motivate and support the team during the changes.

4. Flexibility and adaptability: Be willing to adjust plans and seize opportunities, such as the collaboration with Odido. This demonstrates Sanquin’s ability to be flexible and seize unique opportunities.

5. Innovate and continuously improve: Innovation must be at the core of transformation. Sanquin’s focus on research and preventive health care is an example of how organizations can innovate to improve their services.

6. Strong brand strategy: A well-thought-out brand strategy is vital. Sanquin’s new brand identity and values help strengthen their position in the market and improve their public image.

7. Education and development: Invest in training and development of employees. The shift to data science at Sanquin requires new skills, and by investing in employees, the organization will make this transition successful.

8. Data Security and Ethics: With the emphasis on data, information security must be paramount. Sanquin’s enhanced data security reminds us that organizations must ensure the privacy and security of their customers.

9. Digital transformation: Put the customer experience first. This means not only focusing on cost savings but especially on improving customer interaction. At Sanquin, for example, this led to the development of a dashboard that offers donors greater insight into their health.

10. Measurable results: Focus on achieving measurable results. Sanquin’s improved efficiency and positive public perception are examples of tangible results that demonstrate the value of their transformation.

By applying these principles, organizations can shape their transformation processes and achieve sustainable success, just as Sanquin did.

Author: Sieds de Boer, Head of Strategic Communications TD