What’s your 「Love Mark」? March 18th, 2010
By Ken Kim, ph.D.
Senior Vice President
Hi everyone, I’m Ken Kim and I head the Business Strategy Office at Kia Motors. It’s a thrill for me to be able to speak to bloggers around the world through Kia BUZZ.
Recently I came across an interesting study. Students at Stanford University were asked how they would feel if Apple were to go bankrupt tomorrow. The majority of respondents answered they would feel very sad. On the other hand, when asked the same question about another company – and I won’t actually name that company here – the students said they wouldn’t feel much at all or that they didn’t care. The study is simple but clearly reveals a fact: Apple’s biggest asset is the devotion and attachment of its customers. Apple is a ‘Love Mark’ that receives a great deal of affection from customers. I am very envious of Apple and its ability to make a strong emotional connection with customers. From a company’s point of view, we all want to be regarded as special to customers and have an emotional connection. Kia Motors is no different. That’s why we’ve selected ‘design’ as our medium of communication. We are using design to provide customers with unique value and an unforgettable automobile experience.
Until recently, Kia was unable to provide customers with any distinctive feeling. We often heard that Kia was an ordinary run of the mill brand with no unique character of its own. However, this perception began to change after Peter Schreyer, one of the world’s three most famous car designers, joined Kia Motors in 2006 as Chief Design Officer (CDO) and we began building an independent global design network spanning North America, Europe and Korea.
Our efforts began producing visible results in 2008, when cars carrying Kia’s unique design DNA began rolling out. The family look, evident in the radiator grille seen first in the Magentis (Optima), then Cerato (Forte), Soul, Koup and Sorento, enabled the vehicles to be easily recognizable as Kia cars.
Fortunately, customers have been warmly receptive of these initiatives. In 2009, the new concept CUV Soul and Venga, a strategic model for the European market, won the prestigious red dot and iF design awards respectively, which was a first for a Korean automaker. CNN also reported in October 2009 that Kia Motors had shifted gears from being a ‘normal’ brand into a ‘good and attractive’ brand. Thanks to our attempts at change and the positive market feedback, Kia Motors posted its best ever business results in 2009. We’re delighted that the momentum seems to be continuing in 2010, as just days ago the Kia Venga received the red dot Winner award.
Kia is taking the first steps toward becoming your ‘Love Mark.’ What’s your most cherished brand? Apple? Harley Davidson? Coca-Cola? All of us here at Kia have a dream, and that’s to become a special brand that evokes positive emotions in our customers. Our dream is to become a ‘Love Mark’.