• Rick Julian

KIA: A Frisson Inspiring Rebrand


I just finished a coffee chat with a new friend of mine. His name is Andrew Diets. What up, Andrew? Andrew is a brilliant content marketing strategist, content creator as well as a wonderful author. Andrew is a lover of language like I am, and I was telling him about one of my favorite words: frisson—it's a tingle of excitement that one can have provoked by any number of things. As a 13 year old, I had a frisson when I took Mary Beck Olive to see "Jaws". Sitting in this darkened theater and this scary movie, and she's grabbing my arm and all that . . . ot provoked a frisson in me. Wherever you are, Mary Beck, thank you so much. What a wonderful memory—all these years later, my crusty self still enjoys it. The most recent frisson I've had has been when driving down the road and I see a car coming toward me and it has the new Kia logo on it. A few months ago, I was at a stoplight with my kids and in front of me was a Kia Soul that had the old logo, and in an adjacent lane to my right, was the new logo. Could not be any more contrast. The old logo: serviceable, good utility. The letter forms are legible. You can read it from a distance. Kerning is a little bit wide for my taste . . . it was alright. It's just unremarkable.

But sitting next to the new logo in that adjacent lane . . . oh, my goodness, you guys. Flowers for Kia and the logo designer and the agency! Job well done. I enjoy the continuity. All of the letter forms are connected, which gives it an energy unto itself. This undulating waveform has an energy and a dynamism about it that is further extended by these diagonal strokes in it that suggest progress and innovation and leaning into the future, giving it a dynamism that was totally not present in the old logo. I have no idea how much Kia spent, but I promise you they would do it again and again and again and again. I think it has reframed their perception as a brand in the eyes of people who never would have given it consideration before, including me. In my mind, they were an also ran Korean brand that was a little bit better than Yugo, but nothing that was on my radar.

But now they are in my pool of candidates. That's a huge, huge win. I think for their existing customer base, to go from a logo that is okay, but unremarkable and has little hipness to it, to be able to buy another Kia that now is with the cool kids. I think it will make it more likely for an existing Kia customer to buy a new Kia product.

So these little ticks in the inclination to buy big win. Big win. To even get it on the list of consideration for someone like me who would have never thought about it before. Huge, huge win. So if you ever wonder whether rebranding is something that would be good for your brand, I would look to Kia as a case study for how to do it exceptionally well.

I don't know what their numbers are, but I bet that this has been a huge success for them. I expect that that benefit will accrue to them into the next decade and give them a new brand platform upon which to build even more success. So if you're going to do it, do it like Kia: just kickass work. I love seeing that, and I love the frisson

that exciting, well executed design can and provoke in people— it did it for me.

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