B. Braun & Blue Lines: a successful partnership for 11 years and still going strong

B. Braun develops and supplies high-tech, high-quality and sustainable healthcare products. Quality, safety and comfort for the patient and the healthcare provider are always prioritised in the product development process that includes constructive dialogue and sharing expertise with the healthcare providers.

Blue Lines has been B. Braun Benelux’s permanent translation partner for many years. Elke Corens, B. Braun's human resources manager for the Benelux region, has this to say about our collaboration.

When and how did you end up with Blue Lines?
Before joining B. Braun, I spent 5 years at Hill & Knowlton. That's where I first used Blue Lines for translations. When I started my new job at B. Braun 11 years ago, I introduced Blue Lines as a translation partner. B. Braun and Blue Lines have been working together for 11 years now! 

What is it like to work with Blue Lines?
Pleasant, smooth, fast and flexible. With a healthy dose of critical thinking as well. From time to time, you visit us to review our partnership and suggest areas for improvement. You also help us think things through, for example by checking which translators would be a good fit for our source texts. Using a translation memory to ensure a more consistent use of terminology was also a good idea. Our style requirements are taken into account as well. For example, our HR texts can be translated much more informally than our external communications. 

One area in which B. Braun and Blue Lines are a particularly good match is the human factor. Personal contact is very important to us: that feeling of virtual closeness. We work with Kobe and Margo and Stef and Virginie… not Mrs. Someone-or-other or Mr. What’s-his-name-again. It’s easy for us to talk to each other; it feels accessible and personal. We have a genuinely outstanding long-term relationship with Blue Lines, a partnership in which both parties want to be there for each other. 

What are your target groups? Is the style adapted to the target group?
We communicate internally with our employees. Externally, we communicate with hospitals and healthcare institutions on a B2B basis. For certain products (such as ostomy products) we communicate B2C with patients, for example at trade fairs. It goes without saying that we don’t communicate with patients in the same way as with professional healthcare providers, and this also affects our requirements for the translations. 

What types of content does B. Braun publish and what channels does it use?
The increasing digitisation of marketing communications is certainly also a trend for us. We use far fewer paper leaflets and brochures these days. Instead, we are increasingly using apps and sending brochures digitally. We regularly organise an expert academy, a scientific platform where professors from university hospitals can exchange expertise with other experts. Internally, we communicate about our company policy but also about births, marriages and other events in our employees’ lives. These announcements are made on our intranet. 

How does content help to drive your business forward?
The way we formulate our message has a major impact on our image. The information we disseminate needs to have a strong scientific basis, and it has to be detailed and to the point. The way we deal with product-related complaints also affects our credibility. Being careful with information allows us to enhance our reputation as a high-quality service provider. 

Does the medical sector require a specific communication approach?
Of course the medical sector is heavily regulated and the rules are getting stricter as time goes by. When it comes to approaching specialists, for example, more and more rules appear every year. Although we can communicate about disease profiles, we cannot simply advertise our products. 

GDPR legislation requires communication campaigns to be scheduled even further in advance. Especially when we approach patients, we have to be very careful with privacy. This has meant a lot of extra work. For example, we needed to revise the way in which people registered online on the website and on apps. These days the data protection officer is much more involved in the communication processes. 

In which languages are your texts written? Which languages do they need to be translated into?
We write our texts in Dutch and have them translated into French by Blue Lines. We made a conscious decision to address our customers and employees in their own mother tongue, not in English. Blue Lines sometimes also translates texts from English into Dutch or French for us, when documents are supplied by the international group. 

Which file formats do you supply?
We usually send Word files, or from time to time PowerPoint, Excel or InDesign files as well. 

What expectations do you have of translation work?
We actually communicate about our expectations on a regular basis. That was how we came to use the translation memory, which is a good tool for terminology management. We naturally expect the style in the source text to be retained. If it is informal, we also want an informal translation. Although the source text should not be translated literally, the translation should convey the same message fluently. The fact that we have been working together for so long naturally helps us to achieve good results. As I said, this is a genuine partnership in which we are all willing to invest.


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