Possible Kia Logo Confusion Prompts Multiple Studies

Yet another study is out regarding Kia’s now two-year-old logo and whether customers find it “confusing,” which will no doubt prompt another round of news stories mulling the "problem."

Apparently some consumers see "KN" instead of "KIA." 

Distinctive BAT, a Distinctive Brand Asset research consultancy, is the latest to register its thoughts on the logo. The company notes there were nearly 90,000 Google searches worldwide in November 2022 for “KN car” due to legibility issues around the logo. Earlier reports noted 30,000 U.S. consumers were googling "KN car."

The Dublin, Ireland-based Distinctive BAT undertook its own research in the U.K. among a nationally representative sample of 500 people. Only 50% of people recognized the new logo and could correctly attribute it to Kia, versus 86% for the previous logo, which was three capitalized letters in an oval design.



Only 77% of people can correctly attribute the new logo back to the brand, which is to say one in four couldn’t say what brand it is after seeing the logo.

“What this all means, in the short term anyway, is that Kia’s advertising and sponsorship is much less impactful and effective,” according to Distinctive BAT. “They are not helping consumers bridge the gap between their advertising and the brand. While these metrics should improve over time, it still represents a faux pas when it comes to branding.”

An earlier study from a tire review company called Rerev asked 1,062 respondents what they saw, resulting in 44% answering something other than Kia. The most common guess was KN at 26%.

But both studies fail to note one important statistic: Kia America just completed its best retail sales year in the company’s 30-year U.S. history. 

The company announced best-ever December sales of 60,422 units, an increase of 11.2% over the previous December record set in 2016 and up 25% year-over-year. 

With the close of 2022 sales, Kia also marked its best-ever fourth quarter performance, which pushed the brand's annual retail sales volume to 654,554, an increase of 1.7% compared to previous retail record in 2021.

So despite any confusion, customers are finding Kia dealerships and buying the vehicles.

As P.T. Barnum once said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity.”

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