June 13, 2013

Brands We Love: Kia

Earlier this week while I was perusing Twitter, I noticed a large number of tweets surrounding an unlikely brand, Kia, and being a strong advocate of the brand, I was immediately intrigued. Though I hold it close to my heart and tell anybody who wants to listen how much I love Kia, I also know it’s typically not a highly talked about brand. So as you can imagine, I began to investigate the reason why. As it turns out, Kia made its debut this week on Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands, which is Interbrand’s nod to the top ethical and ecologically responsible brands.

My affinity for the Kia brand began seven years ago, when I bought my Kia Sorento. Kia was in the process of repositioning itself in the American market from a not-so-glamorous automaker to a polished, design savvy one, all while still being an affordable option for American drivers. I’d like to think I was ahead of the curve when it came to Kia, but as it turns out I was fully falling into its plan of becoming a well-recognized and respected brand in America, and I don’t mind that one bit.

Instead of listing all the reasons why I love the Kia brand (and trust me, there are a lot), let’s take a look back at the brand’s history and how it has become one of the most valuable brands.

Kia’s storied past
Kia, South Korea’s oldest car company, was founded on June 9, 1944 as a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts. In 1951, Kia switched gears a bit (pun intended) and began building complete bicycles. In 1952, Kia changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry and later built motorcycles (starting in 1957), trucks (1962) and cars (1974).
It wasn’t until 1992, that Kia Motors America was incorporated in the United States. Kia began sales operations in Portland, Oregon at four dealerships. Since then, Kia has expanded methodically, one region at a time. Fast forward to 2013, and Kia is the fourth largest automotive group in the world.

The Kia brand
When I began researching the Kia brand a bit more for this blog post, I was extremely happy to see that Kia’s website outlines its corporate identity.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the brand is its name, Kia. Without knowing when the name was chosen, its fascinating to see how the company’s success has mirrored the meaning of its name .
According to Kia’s website, the word Kia is derived from the Chinese letter “Ki,” meaning to “arise or come out of” and “a,” referring to Asia. When the two words come together Kia means to “arise or come out up out of Asia.”

Kia has emerged as one of the fastest-growing automobile brands, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The brand’s success has been attributed to its connection with millennials and Gen Y audiences by promoting uses of technology and connectivity that appeal to younger audiences. As a strong advocate for the Kia brand and self-proclaimed Kia driver for life, I’m excited to see how it responds to its growing popularity.

Kia Corporate Website
Kia Motors enters Interbrand’s list of 50 best global green brands 2013
Refining the Hyundai-Kia brand plan

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