With international sales of 3.5 billion euros, roughly 14,200 employees around the world, and a long brand history dating back to 1898, KUKA is one of the leading suppliers of industrial robots and intelligent automation solutions on the planet. From its inception over 100 years ago, the company has been headquartered in the Bavarian city of Augsburg. So it’s no surprise KUKA is a big player in the automotive manufacturing industry. Its machines are used for instance to weld and assemble metal parts into the body of the car.
It makes one think of mega-industrial sized factories, lined with rows and rows of identical machines working in unison on an almost Wagnerian epic scale. Mechanical, repetitious, efficient – are words that come to mind. But KUKA’s branding instead focuses on a very different word: ‘Intelligence’.
Take the campaign with KUKA’s ambassador for China, Timo Boll, one of the world’s greatest table tennis athletes and Germany’s flag bearer at the Rio Olympics. In a series of videos, Timo goes up against a KUKA machine. First in a game of ping pong, then in a game of playing grand symphonies on wine glass rims (if that can be described as a game), and finally in a sort of epic, futuristic balancing match, where the two work together as a team. The videos are playful and exciting, which stands out in an industrial industry that can be anything but, and the focus is on wit, agility, adaptability, intelligence, even grace, and a relationship and understanding between man and machine that is so well-tuned it’s almost human.
There is absolutely no mention of how KUKA technology can increase the efficiency of your manufacturing process. And for good reason. Everyone in the business knows that KUKA has a brilliant reputation for reliability and efficiency. So, instead, the branding focus pushes the idea of just how far a KUKA machines can go – just how intelligent it can be, and how in sync with us. And in a time when the trend is all about Industry 4.0, connected machines and smart industry, this seems to us an intelligent move.
By focussing on an intimate relationship between man and machine, helping and pushing each other to another level, by striving for ‘intelligence’ rather than precision or efficiency, by infusing the machine with personality and even a dose of humanity, the branding gives KUKA a beating heart. It brings the brand to life and embeds values that people can relate to and connect with. Almost like a lifestyle brand.
Image credits © KUKA Group