By on December 12, 2019

While Kia and Hyundai have taken major strides in improving their product lineup, their logos aren’t the prettiest in the industry. This is an extremely shallow way to judge an automobile but, with the companies moving away from their former roles as purveyors of cheap steel, it might be time to freshen up their emblems.

Volkswagen recently did so, and it’s had one of the most consistent logo designs (minus those early swastika/ginfaxi years) you’re ever to come across.

Several trademark applications dated November 26th indicate that Kia might be following suit. The brand has a new design pending with the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS), and it’s a major departure from the last update. 

If you’ll recall, Kia’s previous (2004) logo alteration basically encapsulated the old corporate font inside a metallic oval and did a palette swap with the background. There’s also a red variant the company frequently uses as its corporate banner (below).

According to Motor1, Kia originally filed an application for the new logo over the summer. Meanwhile, Hyundai has been sitting on its slanted H (which looks like an N) since 1992 and appears happy to continue doing so.

From Motor1:

Designed in red and black flavors, the application for the stylized KIA avatar was made back at home with the [KIPRIS]. The fields for the registration date and application publish date are both empty, which means Kia has yet to receive the stamp of approval from the local authorities, but that’s likely only a matter of time. Digging deeper into the search results provided by KIPRIS reveals Kia actually initially applied for these two logos on July 19.

The design is very similar to the illuminated branding shown on the Kia Imagine Concept that debuted earlier this year at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. However, it’s unclear if the new logo (below) will be used in all markets or for all models. The brand had a stint where it used a separate logo for domestic market vehicles and continues to field special emblems for a handful of models sold in South Korea (e.g. the Stinger). There’s some speculation that the new emblem could be reserved for “new energy vehicles” like the Imagine.

[Images: Kia Motors; KIPRIS]

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47 Comments on “Kia Files Trademark for New Logo...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Handsome looks.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    It is difficult to imagine how a new logo alone will sell more cars. But, as the anchor of a whole new creative marketing campaign, it might offer some additional possibilities. As a satisfied Kia customer, I wish them good luck!

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    The logo is the worst thing about my mom’s otherwise excellent Sorento, so I’m very glad to see it change. But so far we’re seeing two different updated logos. Wonder which one they’ll use.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My dad’s friend had a Kia Sephia when I was very young. I wanted so badly to draw a line through the “A.” This new one, however, works that to its advantage. I like it a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Agreed. The current KIA logo looks REALLY cheap and ugly. KIA needs a new logo. A lot of KIA buyers get those badge overlays that look like a stylized “K” just to cover the hideousness.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I still remember the one with the waves (?) under the letters, on the early Sephias.

    I’m usually not big on logo changes, especially when companies change them every few years. I’m still annoyed about Citroen changing from the double chevrons to the double boomerangs.

    Tradition, shmadition.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The one pictured on the car looks great. The one shown in red in the body of the story is unreadable geometric gibberish.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Kia: Thanks to our new logo, nobody has to know you’re driving one!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Well, they do have some JD Power awards lately, but haters of Brand X never believe them.

      https://www.jdpower.com/cars/ratings/kia/2019

      My Kias have been pretty good.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        Agreed. Kia Soul EV has been flawless going on three years.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I counseled two KIA Soul owners on Reddit, one was an MY14 with a blown engine at 85K, the other I think was a bad tranny around 100. I hope your good fortune continues.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          The blown engine must have been one of those with the bad crank (the ones where metal particles remained in the oil passages after the cranks were machined). A friend of mine had the problem with his 2014 Sorrento at 74k, and Kia paid for the repairs.

          I’ve bought a few Fortes as used cars for my kids, and generally speaking, I’m impressed with them. Kia parts are inexpensive, too. Most of them, anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Perhaps, as I recall the owner said something about and oil issue which caused it to fail or seize. He claimed he went to the dealer who told him TS. So the issue was a bad crankcase?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        H-K products are a roll of the dice, but very few cars available have been any better than that since Michael’s husband revised CAFE and many are worse. My first new car 32 years ago was a Kia, although back then they were based on Mazdas and mine wore Ford badges. I’d certainly rather drive a Kia than a Ford today.

      • 0 avatar
        teddyc73

        @SCE to AUX I have had to see people maligning FCA products for years. I wonder how many have actually driven one. All of mine, going back to 1998, all of my parent’s and my brother’s have been excellent vehicles.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    What about the aftermarket logo found on many Optimas and Forte SX models? Could they do a take on the stylized K?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    That’s a big improvement. The current Kia logo screams “dollar store.”

    Now they have to work on getting a network of dealers that don’t feel like dollar stores.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      They’re not alone. My sister’s Elantra has been a good car but the dealer experience screwed the pooch.

      I went with her when she bought it and the slovenly-groomed salesman exuded sleaze like a bad movie with vulgar quips, amateurish condescension and obvious attempts to rip her off. He never got up from his desk but if he had, I was on the lookout for an ankle monitor for a work-release program. Another salesman came over, felt the cold vibe, tried to crack a few bad jokes and got the stinkeye from both of us. He slinked away quietly. It set a new low for customer engagement for me. My sister vehemently exclaims she’ll never buy another Hyundai based on the lousy experience.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “My sister vehemently exclaims she’ll never buy another Hyundai based on the lousy experience.”

        I’ve never understood this reaction. If you go to an appliance store and the sales guy is a creep, do you vow to never buy anything from LG as long as you live?

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          Can you grasp that we’re talking about people, not mathematical formulas? People aren’t always logical in their thinking and every one of them is different. I managed technical people for much of my career and they had irrational quirks too.

          There’s an emotional component with all things cars. Being dissed during a major sale (which should be a happy event) evokes a response that can be hard to get past even if it doesn’t make sense to a dispassionate observer. I don’t begrudge her anger at how it went, having seen it as it happened. I suggested that the negative buying experience be decoupled from the positive ownership experience and some headway was made as time passed, but for the next car it’s back to Honda. Their dealers DID treat her as a valued customer and in her eyes, a valued person. For her it’s the right choice.

          If we view ourselves as “customers”, the dealer is as close as we will find to being the customer-facing side of a car company. Car companies should really care about how the dealer can influence the buyer and many of them are indifferent to that, hence dal’s comment.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Dislike that new one.
    Am ambivalent about the old one, but prefer it to this proposed new one.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like it.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I think, for the amount of time and money they’ve spent on it, it is not good enough

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Oh dear Lord it looks terrible. Reminds me of Thai script.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I think the chrome one in the rendering looks pretty good. The new logo is a small thing really. It’s biggest benefit will be that people won’t initially know that it is a Kia. That will wear off. Still, I think it’s a good change. Building exceptional cars or offering exceptional value on a consistent basis is a great way to sway opinion and perception.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The new logo seems like an upgrade. The name overall is a little strange. A few years ago, I saw a Korean war vet arrive at a war memorial dedication ceremony in a KIA. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the KIA (car) near the memorial to the KIA (Killed In Action troops).

    Obviously, they don’t mean the same thing, and the car is produced by “our side” in South Korea, but it was interesting nonetheless.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    When I bought my wife’s Hyundai Santa Fe-they tried to charge me $500.00 for “Nitrogen” and $650.00 for “key FOB Insurance”.

    I like Hyundai products-but would definitely use another dealer and be a lot more aggressive about setting my own rules.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Anything that helps obscure the fact that you’re driving a KIA is a good thing.

  • avatar

    In looks like Russian “КИ”. I like Kia sedans from distance but not their brand name that sounds too cheap. Imagine if I say my Russian friend that I am driving КИ.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      That’s it! I couldn’t place why this looked odd to me, but it looks like Russian script scribbled quickly on the back of a beer garden napkin.

      It’s a good sign that Kia understands their image needs help. Stinger did a lot to help that, as have recent cars like Optima. New logo and then the hard part… dealer culling/re-education.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    I must be one of the almost eight billion in the world who couldn’t care less what logo Kia uses. Or anyone else for that matter. It’s a matter of internal corporate doofus pride. The exception that proves the rule is Ferrari. Quick, tell me what the McLaren logo is! I’m waiting. Yes, it’s clever.

    I never met anyone who ever mentioned they bought or didn’t buy a new vehicle for its logo. However, the actual brand name game among the fast set is of course highly important for those who wish to impress the other equally odd folk in their social clique. Such people are commonly called badge w*ores, but believe me, they’re talking about the spelled-out name, not the logo.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    In a way this illustrates the common sense thought process of the Korean’s and the flawed thought process of the Americans (ie Cadillac for example).

    The Korean thought process :

    Mediocre product ; how do we boost sales?

    1)Focus on building a quality vehicle that people want to buy. Wow this actually works ; we’re winning all the comparison tests with the Palisade/Telluride and even got an SUV of the year award. Success.

    2)Focus on badges, dealerships, etc.

    Cadillac thought process :

    Mediocre product, how do we boost sales ?

    1) Move the headquarters when everyone but us thinks it’s a dumb idea. That didn’t go well ; time to move back.
    2) Subscription service. That didn’t go so well, so lets try it again.
    3) Displacement badges on the backs of the vehicles. Let’s see how well this works.

    If the Korean’s made truly capable full sized pickups, the big 3 would be gone for sure.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    The H and K fanboys will love anything they do.

  • avatar
    imnormlurnot

    My family has owned a Hyundai Accent, Genesis sedan, 2 Genesis Coupes, and a Kia Optima. All have been rock solid reliable. I can’t say they are better than all their competitors — I haven’t tried all the competitors.

    I’d like to think I’m a semi-fanboy; I love anything they do right.
    The H and Ks we’ve owned, were done right.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Meanwhile, Hyundai has been sitting on its slanted H (which looks like an N) since 1992 and appears happy to continue doing so.”

    Theory: Based on the logo, 38% of Hyundai owners think they own a Honda. Another 16% of Hyundai owners think that Honda vehicles they see on the road are Hyundai vehicles.

  • avatar
    Ridgerunner

    KIA is a bad name to begin with – the capital letters KIA for most people who served in the military stand for – Killed In Action. Not sure who researched the name in the US before they picked it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” Not sure who researched the name in the US before they picked it.”

      Remember when Datsun changed their name to Nissan? Some AMERICAN research in La Jolla, CA revealed that “Nissan” was a lot more appealing to the American psyche and tongue than “DAT–SOON.”

      But with KIA changing their logo appearance, not their name, the logo may very well be interpreted as a CHINESE brand by the automotively less-than well-versed buyers.

      Still, the new logo is very handsome in appearance, more flowing than the stark K-I-A.

      • 0 avatar
        Ridgerunner

        I had a 200sx during the transition time and read – Nissan by Datsun if I remember correctly. I know this is just a logo change, but I still don’t understand using KIA when they first came over to the US. I also wonder if this will affect the cottage industry of other badges made to replace the KIA badge. It is the brand I see the most owners change the badge on – I wonder why?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Kia is the #10 best selling brand in the US market. I’m not sure they’re worried about it at this point.

      People are mature enough to not confuse the Korean name of a 75 year old car company with the English acronym of a military term.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        A person can know they mean different things, while word association still takes place on an instant and sub-conscious or pre-conscious level. In absolute terms, it shouldn’t matter, but there must be some limit to that. Would you recommend introducing a brand with the acronym “DEATH”? I’m not saying they should change it now, but it is a little surprising that they didn’t change it earlier.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    The bottom half is missing. It’s jarring.

  • avatar
    Steve S.

    I was looking at a Chevrolet Impala and admiring it’s decently handsome lines, but I could never imagine buying one. The biggest turnoff was the logo. The Chevy Bowtie itself is fine, but they’ve been using the same anodized-gold style bowtie since the mid-1970s and I just hate it. It makes any vehicle its on look dated, frumpy, and cheap.

    Chevy offers a “blackout” version as an option on some of their cars and trucks and people buy them even though it’s a $110 option last time I looked.

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