Corporate Eye

Kia Rolls out Brand Repositioning Ad Campaign

kia hood ornamentThis month, Kia is making headlines in the United Kingdom with its new ad campaign that includes television, print, digital, and social. It’s not the ads themselves that are driving buzz about the Kia brand, it’s about the goal of the ads—to reposition the Kia brand.

For years, Kia has been known as the affordable car brand. It comfortably occupied that space in the marketplace and consumers were familiar with and trusted the Kia brand promise where value equaled affordability. Now, Kia is trying to reposition its brand as a different kind of value brand than what consumers have come to expect.

According to Sara Spary from BrandRepublic, “The ad, Kia claimed, has a ‘premium feel’ and is designed to communicate the brands ‘quality, reliability, design and technology’, positioning it as a value brand.” Using the word ‘premium’ makes it clear that Kia’s new brand positioning won’t be all about price value. Now, value will translate into higher quality, and what customers will anticipate will eventually translate into higher prices.

Will the brand repositioning work? It did for Hyundai.

In the early days of the Hyundai brand, it owned the word “cheap” in consumers’ minds. In order to reposition the brand, the company redesigned its cars to be more contemporary and launched an unprecedented warranty program that competitors are still trying to copy today. Consumer perceptions were changed as the new car styling attracted their eyes and the warranty appealed to their wallets as well as to their need for a sense of trust and security when making a big ticket purchase. Today, Hyundai’s brand reputation is much better than it was over a decade ago. Kia slid into the market position that Hyundai abandoned and has held that spot comfortably for years. If the new Kia brand positioning works, Kia won’t hold that spot for much longer.

Kia’s new ad campaign is focusing on building emotional connections with consumers with a goal to show consumers “how it feels” to drive a Kia according to Spary. She explains, “It depicts ‘real drivers’ describing what they want from their car.” This is a smart strategy that just might work.

What do you think? Does Kia have a chance at successfully repositioning its brand? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: James Case licensed CC BY 2.0

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.