Kia brand

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

6 November 2018

Kia cars make strides, but not the Kia brand

Several years ago, I titled a post with a proclamation: “Kia is taking the next step.” That was five years ago, and since, the Korean automotive manufacturer boldly moves with a compelling trajectory. Its automobiles are first rate, but the Kia brand itself has taken a step back.

Kia brandI thought about this when my eldest son traded in his 15 year-old Honda CR-V for a brand spanking new Kia Nero. Man, what a sweet ride. It looks sleek, in a BMW kind of way — which makes sense as the brand recently hired an ex-BMW designer. The hybrid also sports a range of 54 mpg. That’s phenomenal.

Think back about 25 years ago, of a time when the Kia Sephia struggled on the road. Then, you would be lucky to keep the door fastened to your car if you chose to take it though a laser wash.

The Kia brand still lacks emotional preference

Kia’s automobiles are now among the best on the road. But the Kia brand still wonders the landscape in search of meaning after ditching its “Power to surprise” positioning. Now, it trots out JD Power awards, which as we’ve written before are total bullshit. Kia may not always go the way of other auto advertising. But even its Super Bowl commercial from last year was built to entertain, not create preference.

Even more recently, the Kia brand positions itself on price.

But, like most automobile branding, the Kia brand still finds itself lost among automobile brands often spouting the same thing over and over. Awards aren’t the answer, especially from JD power. Neither are sales.”

The positive. The stigma over a Korean-made car is over. (The Hyundai brand is also partly responsible as well.) The quality of the automobiles has improved greatly.

But, like most automobile branding, the Kia brand still finds itself lost among automobile brands often spouting the same thing over and over. Awards aren’t the answer, especially from JD power. Neither are sales.

Using humor helps ads be remembered. But, without the meaning of the brand woven into the ad, people remember the humor, not the brand.

For example, in the above ad about “Value, it’s all you need,” the ad would be more memorable if the Kia brand meaning heightened the humor. The problem? There is no meaning for the Kia brand.

So, I’m becoming more impressed with the quality of Kia’s cars. But the Kia brand still has work to do.

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