Redesigning your brand identity? Avoid these pitfalls that can confuse consumers


Euan Lockwood

13th December 2022

Clever letterforms, or just confusing?

At the beginning of 2021 Kia launched its new brand identity that moved away from the ellipse-framed, pared back workmark to a more abstracted wordmark that plays with the diagonals of the K and A, slanting the A to the right and linking the two through the vertical post of the I. Clever work; the leg of the K being the only difference between the right and left halves of the logo.

Old and New Kia Logos

Since its release, there have been many remarks about the way the I and A combine to be misconstrued as an N so that the wordmark looks like KN rather an KIA. This is backed up now by search analysis highlighting that 30,000 searches are made each month for the mystery "KN" car. The majority of search engine results are directed to the Kia website - a helpful auto-correction by certain search engines that recognise there is no KN car maker and assume the user means Kia.

With all the press and attention around this misidentified logo it could be said that the car maker has benefited from the additional exposure it's received in line with the old adage that any press is good press. But we'll put that to one side. The main issue that is evident in Kia's brand redesign is that they've created confusion in the minds of those they're trying to connect with.

Redesign responsibly

Redesigning a brand logo can be a powerful way to refresh a company's image and make it more appealing to consumers. However, if the new logo is not well-received or does not effectively communicate the company's values and message, it can have negative effects on the brand. Here are a number of ways these negative effects can turn out:

Customer alienation

One of the biggest risks of redesigning a brand logo is alienating existing customers. If a company has been using the same logo for a long time, its customers may have a strong emotional connection to it. When the logo is changed, these customers may feel a sense of loss and even betrayal. This can lead to a decrease in brand loyalty and a decrease in sales.

Customer confusion

Another potential negative effect is confusing consumers. If the new logo is too different from the old one, consumers may not immediately recognise it as belonging to the same company. This can lead to confusion and a loss of trust in the brand. In some cases, consumers may even mistake the company for a completely different business, as is the case with Kia, which can damage the company's reputation and bottom line.

Negative media response

In addition to alienating existing customers and confusing consumers, redesigning a brand logo can also result in negative media attention. If the new logo is widely criticised or mocked, it can generate negative press for the company. This can damage the brand's reputation and make it more difficult for the company to attract new customers.

To summarise

Overall, redesigning a brand logo can be a valuable way to update a company's image and stay relevant in a changing marketplace, which no doubt, is what Kia was trying to do. However, it is important for companies to carefully consider the potential negative effects and ensure that the new logo effectively communicates the company's message and values. By taking these steps, companies can avoid the pitfalls of a poorly-received logo redesign and continue to thrive in today's competitive business environment.

If you know your brand identity needs an update but want to make sure you don't fall foul of any of the pitfalls mentioned above, we'd love to help you navigate the brand identity landscape and help you connect more effectively with your audience.

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