Merck KGaA amps up 'curious' brand push with 350th birthday science celebration

Merck's curiosity2018 conference will take place in Germany next month. (Merck KGaA)

Merck KGaA has a big birthday this year, and to celebrate, it’s leaning hard into the “curiosity” theme from its latest corporate branding effort.

To mark turning 350, the company is sponsoring a science conference, dubbed curious2018, that’ll take place next month in its hometown of Darmstadt, Germany. Thirty-five speakers—including genome expert Craig Venter, Weizmann Institute of Science president Daniel Zajfman, and five Nobel Prize recipients—will give talks on topics ranging from synthetic biology to the power of digitalization.

“We are fighting cancer and other serious diseases. We are helping other companies to conduct research even more quickly and efficiently. And we are developing high-tech materials with which autonomous driving or foldable displays, for example, are becoming reality. We are doing all this in close partnership with top researchers around the globe. Therefore, we are very much looking forward to a huge celebration of research with the best of the best,” CEO Stefan Oschmann said in a statement.

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The conference builds on Merck’s “Curiosity” rebrand that went into full force last year with a digital content marketing push and interactive website.

“The topic of curiosity perfectly fits to the essence behind the new brand identity which reflects the company’s transformation into a vibrant science and technology company,” Gangolf Schrimpf, Merck healthcare spokesman, said of the effort last January. “(The goal is to) spark a discussion within our social communities about curiosity as the starting point of scientific progress and innovation.”

But Merck was already remaking its face well before it put together its “Merck Curiosity Council” in 2016 to ignite conversations around the topic. The year before, it rolled out new visual branding that went heavy on the science-oriented and futuristic design elements.

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Meanwhile, the company is also working uphold its “progress” and “curiosity” emphases in its labs, too. With Bavencio, born of a partnership with Pfizer, it’s fighting for market share with the rest of the cutting-edge PD-1/PD-L1 class of immuno-oncology drugs. And in April, it inked a $4.2 billion pact to unload its consumer health division to Procter & Gamble, a move Oschmann called “a clear demonstration of our continued commitment to actively shape our portfolio as a leading science and technology company.”