Kia Execs Want People to Stop Being Ashamed of Driving Kias

Kia Execs Want People to Stop Being Ashamed of Driving Kias

Have you ever seen a car on the road that looks kind of like a Kia, but wasn’t wearing a Kia badge?

This is because a lot of Kia drivers swap out the factory badge on their cars for another one that looks very similar to a Lexus emblem to hide the fact that they’re driving a Kia. Kia started its life in North America as a budget brand, so it’s understandable that some people might want to hide their Kia’s true identity.


This is a trend that Kia hopes will stop with the launch of its upcoming grand tourer, the Stinger GT, a car that brings the brand upmarket and can also cater to the enthusiast. This car will help break many barriers for the Korean automaker and show the world what it’s capable of.

“We think we’re going to surprise many people with this car,” said Orth Hedrick, vice-president of product planning at Kia. Hedrick said that the brand has noticed people swapping badges and used this as motivation to build cars that drivers can be proud of.

ALSO SEE: All-New 2018 Kia Rio Makes US Debut

“People buy a car to express themselves in some way,” he said, suggesting that people can’t go out and tell everyone their net worth, so cars become a representation of one’s place or social standing in the world. The Kia Stinger GT wants to make sure that message is loud and clear: it’s luxurious and sporty and built to the same standards as expensive German vehicles.

With former Audi and BMW execs at the helm of Kia, it’s very possible they can pull off this change in public perception. For example, Global Chief of Design Peter Schryer came from Audi and has been leading the Korean automaker through a high point in car design, while former BMW M Brand VP Albert Biermann is now in charge of Vehicle Dynamics at Kia.

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With the new rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger GT, the automaker wants to change people’s perception of the brand, hopefully leaving buyers satisfied and proud enough to keep the proper Kia badges on the hood and trunklid of their vehicles.

Discuss this story on our Kia Rio Forum

  • Kamaka

    It’s simple the Korean Kia Logo, the stylized K, looks better. Very few logos spell out the company name, a true logo is more a picture than a font. Let’s not forget that K.I.A. also stands for Killed In Action.

  • Ji Dosha

    It’s because the current logo is plain, uninteresting, not stylized, with a basic font. I guess that summed up the Kia line up of the past. Maybe it’s time to change the logo Kia.

  • Henry Ho

    Your logo is as ugly as Ford! Change it!

  • Omer Humayun Same for me as other comment – I swapped out my Kia badges because the broken K logo LOOKS BETTER.

  • Ramon Lopez

    I doubt this will work they can try make a HUUUUUUUUGE leap to make a fast luxurious car but kia is a cheap brand for North America if they brought over the kia c’eed GT I’m sure it could have changed people’s mind especially when it’s a small fun affordable hatchback this is just my opinion

  • pmdr

    Until somebody ran a red light and hit me two weeks ago today, I drove an 06 Sorento and felt no shame at all. It was an actual truck-based SUV with capable 4WD and enough creature comforts inside to garner “WOW this is a Kia?” comments from passengers. Yeah. That was a Kia from 11 years ago, too. I’d take another one in a heartbeat. Maybe an 07 with the revised Hyundai engine, but otherwise gimme the same truck I had.

    Before the Sorento, I had a Sonata. So clearly I have no fear at all of buying Korean. They were both great cars.

  • pmdr

    The Kia oval used in NA is also like that because it somewhat resembles the Ford oval. So I totally understand why someone would want to install the Korea market Kia logo.

  • Perry F. Bruns

    Hyundai and Kia are part of the same company, and their products are by and large really nice.

    When someone rear-ended me sometime back, the rental company ran out of Corollas and handed me the keys to a Genesis sedan, and I really didn’t want to give it back. (I ended up getting to drive it for a week because body parts for Scion xBs can take awhile to backorder when they run out.)

  • Perry F. Bruns

    Agreed. I actually thought it was the new North American Kia logo, and felt it was a massive improvement.

  • Tequila

    Whom ever wrote this article about the KIA Badges, has it completely WRONG! Its not that KIA owners are Ashamed of driving KIA’s, its because the badge emblem is both ugly with block letters and representative of the older problematic cars. The Flying K, Korean Badge is more indicative of Style and Luxury along with the Reliability of the newly designed and stylish KIA’s that we are PROUD of driving today!!

  • Laura Brown

    Did the execs even ask Kia owners why they swapped their badges over? We are not ashamed of our cars. It is very much the opposite for most of us Kia owners. I love it when I catch people doing a double take, and the look on their faces when I tell them it’s a Kia. Plain and simple, we like the looks of the flying K badge better.

  • Evan N

    As a leading member of the largest and oldest Kia aftermarket club in the world, StreetKiaz, I can 100% say we DO NOT swap the badges because we are ashamed of driving Kias. The “Broken K” or “K emblem” badges are a throw back to part an old badge Kia used back in the early 2000s on some vehicles that had what they called a “flying K” on it. Its more on an expression of the fact that the owner participates in the aftermarket modification of their Kia than anything else.

  • DA_NYK

    Exactly. I have a 16 sxl… Everyone loves it but hates the KIA badge. It’s jus plain old ugly. Did u see the kia badge for the stinger that releasing in Korea. I believe it’s circle with an E in it

  • DA_NYK

    Why would I be ashamed of driving a car that I’m most likely paying for. Ugly is ugly. The badge is ugly. The aftermarket badges looks way better. KIA make a complete 180 and change the badge please. Take a chance and put some marketing money into rebranding the badge. And please, no more hamsters

  • DA_NYK

    Found on road dead

  • RazorSky

    I love my Kia. I just bought my second. You get so much more for less money. I started with my Hyundai Tiburon, and that was a good looking car. Now I’ve grown up a bit and have a brand new Sportage and it’s awesome

  • openminded

    The logo in Korea is the same as everywhere else.

  • openminded

    Looks like AutoGuide found some good click-bait.

  • DA_NYK

    Hyundai​ Genesis with the H badge and the Hyundai Genesis with the Genesis badge. Which car looks better??? The latter!!!

  • Tequila

    I did see it thanks, I would change that too if I acquired the Stinger. E badge it would be…Lol

  • kaffekup

    That’s interesting, because Ford is the only other car company I could think of that has its full name on its badge.
    And it’s not a company that one thinks of first for quality, speed or luxury, either.
    I think the broken ‘K’ would be fitting as a symbol now that everyone knows who Kia is.

  • bd

    Swapping badges for Kia has more to do with the other badge being more aesthetically pleasing.

    Kia (and Hyundai for that matter) need to redo their corporate emblem.

  • bd

    When Kia re-entered the passenger car market,it formed a partnership with Ford (and hence, Mazda) which is the reason why Kia’s logo has the same oval shape as Ford’s.

  • octogon

    The “Legacy K” Logo looks infinitely better than the “KIA” Logo. The should be thanking those that badge swap, as it may be the FINAL Ingredient they need to up their sales and marketing game.

  • davebo

    I love my Optima SX and I’m happy to tell all who ask about it. Didn’t swap the badge because I’m ashamed, but because that KIA logo is ugly. Maybe instead Kia should come up with a better logo.

    Very hopeful about the Stinger GT, but if I do get one the first thing I’ll do is swap the badge.

  • Fight for Freedom

    I didn’t swap my logo… but I agree.. it’s ugly.. it’s very austere –

  • davebo

    I just had to look that up. While it looks like a nicer logo, I was curious what the E was for, and found this: “Engineered by Excellence’ are the core themes. Exclusive (for a select few), Exquisite (sophisticated and sensitive), Evolutionary (constantly evolving) presents the direction of the new premium line-up of Kia.”

    I’m not a big fan of the reasoning behind that, and if it’s being sold as a Kia I’d rather Kia just have a better looking logo.

  • MMcintyre

    The “K” just looks better. Let us remember Lexus is the luxury brand of Toyota so maybe it is the Executives that should embrace a branding change as oppose to thinking KIA owners are ashamed. I for one can not wait for the Stinger to come out as I have loved my Optima since the day I got it. Before then I was a only Honda guy. Quality and looks are what counts.

  • crystalworks1

    This is ridiculous. No one who spent $30k (the price of the two Optima SX’s my wife and I bought) is ashamed to say they purchase a Kia. We installed K badges because it looked so much better than the “KIA” badge. Period. No shame, just pure aesthetics. Perhaps KIA should redesign their badge rather than trying to fight the marketplace?

  • Travis Rice

    I agree 100%. I personally was never a fan of “broken k” however I did have the “flying k” on my first gen Rio. I also think this artical is wrong. I don’t feel like drivers are ashamed of Kia as a brand, they just don’t like the boring badge that has been on the car since the start. All that has changed really is the thickness or locations of the badge but the design has stayed the same basically. I think that Kia needs to reflect the time that it is and start making a badge and emblem that reflect that sporty fun design they are trying to portray. They basically have a big KIA that they shove in people’s faces. I say remove it off the front all together. Let the front end speak for its self and put a new badge about half the size of the current one with a new middle design. Force people to get close if they wanna read it. If I were to go get another Kia right now, the first thing I would do is replace the Kia badge.

  • David Keslow

    Good to see you commenting here old friend… +1 on your response!

  • David Keslow

    “broken k” & “flying k” are referring to the exact same emblems.

  • Travis Rice

    ok. I thought they differentiated the round vs the oval. I had the round one. I never liked the oval one.

  • Alanaktion

    I’ve got K emblems because Kia’s logo is boring. No shame at all in owning a Kia, I plan on buying many more and absolutely love mine.

  • TrumpIsAFascistPig!

    You “Kia Execs” are really missing the boat on this. Based on the feedback here, the overwhelming sentiment is that no one is “Ashamed” of driving a KIA, on the contrary, most are extremely proud to be driving one (particular the Optima; which I own). My primary reason that I did not want “KIA” emblazoned on my vehicle is because the military acronym , KIA, is “Killed in Action”. I have a son currently in the military and I found this acronym distasteful. Just about every “brand” has a symbol; it is time for the “KIA Execs” to develop one (mine are the “K badges” displayed in the article)! Just my 2 cents.

  • crystalworks1

    Thanks, yeah, been so busy I have little time for anything anymore. Had another child and bought two X5’s to handle that duty. Been modding those a little but nothing as extensive as the Optimas… yet anyway. I just installed the LED signal lights I used to use in the Optima actually on the rear of my X5 yesterday. Had to shave one of the little locking nubs, but other than that and doing the coding on my light control module… they work great still. I was checking on OF for awhile but then my password no longer worked and requires a reset. I’m sure I’ll do it one day… just not enough time for everything. ; )

  • Darren Zuke

    I was embarrassed when I first got my Optima, Having sold them in another life years ago (never at a KIA dealership) they were the “Yeah it’s cheap but it’s actually pretty not that bad.” We stumbled into our optima and loved it, but it still had the stigma in my mind from the early 2000’s. With the K emblem we had a ton of compliments about our “lexus”. With all of the aftermarket tuner bs that came with the car– apparently the guy before us was more into go fast parts than making his payments– It is fast and fun as anything out there. Now I just love the looks on their faces when I tell them it’s a kia. I hope they don’t switch the badge– It’s more fun this way.

  • Joseph Alber

    According to KIA Motors, KIA means “arise or come up out of Asia.” I also heard that it means the “rising sun.” Do you think anyone in America knows this? – NO! What I don’t understand is why in many parts of the world KIA models are labeled as K1 (Picanto), K3 (Forte), K5 (Optima), K7(Cadenza), K9 (K900), etc… in fact I heard that the “Lexus” looking “K” badge is in fact the Corporate K for KIA Motors in Korea! So yes like many posts here, K.I.A. (Killed In Action) is not the favored badge I’d carry on my favorite ride as a combat soldier. So I ghosted out my entire car (except the “K” steering wheel). I can’t wait for the Stinger GT to come out in November and look forward to replacing the badge if KIA Motors continues to treat the American market this way. By the way, I spent $14K in custom performance upgrades on my 2012 KIA Optima SX and I am pretty sure that’s not because I was ashamed of my KIA, but in fact VERY proud to show what Peter Schreyer and his Team can do (especially as a former AUDI A8 owner).

  • themodfather

    Kia sounds like IKEA. It sounds like some kind of Chinese or Indian Wal-Mart brand of car. Change the name, problem solved. Sounds a lot worse than Toyota or Hyundai to me. Maybe I’m wrong..


  • DA_NYK

    Is that u in the thumbnail?…. If so, you’re one ugly motherfucker. I feel bad for you. I hope your none bullshit car gets you lots of pussy.