How Kodiak Puts Autonomous Vehicles in the Driver’s Seat

Safe, reliable, and efficient transportation is the trucking industry’s top priority. Kodiak uses straightforward and compelling messaging to position its autonomous vehicles as the most salient solution for the industry’s future.

Kodiak is bringing autonomous vehicles to life.

Semi-trucks tend to rattle the nerves of roadway drivers. Physics—not to mention common sense—tells us that such size and weight traveling at high speeds carries with it substantial risk. But long-haul trucks are an essential part of the supply chain we rely on. We need them to transport materials and goods across the country—and to do so safely, sustainably, and efficiently.

Enter Kodiak, a startup that aims to “transform trucking” with autonomous vehicles that employ “the industry’s most advanced technology stack purpose-built for long-haul trucks.” With a human-centric mission of “carrying freight forward—so people, partners, and the planet thrive,” Kodiak positions itself as the solution our society-in-transit has been waiting for.

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Kodiak captivates a wide audience with proactive and inclusive solutions

Everyday drivers aren’t the only ones who want to make sure long-haul trucks stay safe on the roads. The trucking industry at large—from drivers to executives—values safety, as does any company shipping its goods via freight. 

Other priorities for businesses moving goods by truck include reducing environmental impact and achieving efficient and cost-effective deliveries. Accounting for these colossal concerns isn’t easy, especially when so much of that burden rests on a single human driver—one who’s paid by the mile and subject to exhaustion and error. 

Kodiak’s solutions address the pain points of its primary audience—manufacturing companies with long-haul fleets—by offering a straightforward promise that frames The Kodiak Driver, a unique sensor fusion system and lightweight mapping solution, as innovative and accessible. “Powered by the Kodiak Driver, our self-driving freight solutions can transform your business and are available to anyone moving goods by truck,” declares its website. 

Additional copy, informative and digestible, details a fallback system that’s “critical to ensuring safety” and shows how the Kodiak’s SensorPods™ are simple to install and maintain. Clear-cut graphics and descriptions of the Kodiak Driver’s radar technology break down a complicated system into its functional parts, making complex technology easy to understand.

The message then goes further, addressing a broader audience in a tone that’s modern and approachable, and that emphasizes the company’s core value of safety. “Together, we can more efficiently connect people with the products that shape their lives, reduce environmental impact, and make roads safer.” 

This proactive and inclusive message does important work on two fronts. First, by asserting that transporting goods matters to everyone, it broadcasts Kodiak’s relevance to an audience of consumers and industry professionals alike. Second, by painting a clear, concise picture of the company’s target objectives—efficiency, sustainability, and safety—the message presents autonomous vehicles as the undeniable future of trucking.

Establish an industry foothold with straightforward copy that communicates value 

Many tech companies face a crucial challenge: communicating their product benefits in an intuitive, human-centric way, especially to audiences that don’t speak “tech.” The more advanced the technology, the greater the challenge to replace arcane language with clear, effective copy

Kodiak circumvents this problem with messaging that gives concrete examples of The Kodiak Driver’s most applicable features. Direct, jargon-free copy—plus videos and simulations that depict the technology’s response to roadway obstacles in real time—ensures that audiences of diverse technological backgrounds can understand the purpose and benefits of Kodiak’s advanced technology, ultimately expanding the company’s reach.

Scalability, a concern for any growing business, is built into Kodiak’s brand and product offerings. The company offers multiple routes, so to speak, through which customers can engage with and benefit from its technology. Customers can use the Kodiak self-driving fleet to ship their freight, or, starting in 2025, they can integrate Kodiak’s self-driving software and hardware into their own fleets, transforming their standard trucks into autonomous vehicles. This flexibility spotlights Kodiak’s laconic but effective slogan: “Self-driving. For everyone.” 

Kodiak is upfront about valuing collaboration. “We need willing partners that trust our technology can improve how they ship their precious cargo,” says the company page. “Whether the end goal is making roads safer, more efficient, or friendlier to the environment, collaboration across all sectors of the business is essential—today and well into the future.” Extending an open hand to the trucking industry is good for the Kodiak brand: it suggests its autonomous vehicles are here to support the existing industry, not to supplant it.

A world-class university got a helping hand with its research

One of the most famous universities on earth, Stanford University was gearing up to start groundbreaking work on campus. But without a robust environmental health and safety website, progress was slow. Unfortunately, its existing copy was clunky, confusing, and hard to navigate. Not for long. After tapping MarketSmiths, we worked closely with both the university and a hired communications agency to put it right, revising hundreds of pages, from Working Safely with Rabbits to the Laser Safety Manual. After relaunching the website, Stanford was ready to start its expansion—and had a website to match its prestige. 

> Read the full case study here

User-friendly messaging creates a brand that feels inevitable

While the fulcrum of Kodiak’s marketing wheel might be its innovative technology, the brand’s accessible messaging is the engine that gets the wheel turning. 

Kodiak’s user-friendly messaging positions the brand as the de facto solution for the future of trucking, leaving audiences hard-pressed to imagine the industry without Kodiak’s autonomous vehicles powering it forward. Such universality in a brand’s messaging—when done right—can make a product feel almost inevitable to the marketplace. The key to “doing it right” lies at the intersection of universality and specificity. By addressing specific pain points with solutions that benefit a wide audience, the Kodiak brand delivers a message so relevant to the problems of today that audiences struggle to envision a world without its solutions. 

“At Kodiak, we’re building the world’s safest driver.” The homepage slogan begs the question, Who wouldn’t want a web of highways filled with safe and reliable Kodiak Drivers

Certainly the soccer mom in charge of the carpool wants what Kodiak promises. And so does the trucking industry, the future of which relies on its ability to transport goods safely, efficiently, and sustainably.

Want messaging that makes your brand feel inevitable to the marketplace? Contact MarketSmiths today.

Erin McGuff-Pennington

Erin McGuff-Pennington

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