Kia Logo History Design and Evolution

Kia Logo History Design and Evolution

Even if 33.88% of the Korean car maker belongs to the parent company Hyundai Motor Group, Kia is still one of the most profitable automobile, luxury, and commercial vehicle producers in the world. And despite its simplicity, the Kia logo is still one of the most recognizable automotive logos in the world.

The company’s most recent financial data is from 2013, after 33.88% of the company became Hyundai property. With a revenue of $46.9 billion and over 2,827,320 units sold that year, the company and the Kia logo have been a symbol of South Korean automotive quality for more than seventy years.

Opened on the 11th of January, 1945, the company was originally a company that manufactured steel tubing and bicycle parts by hand and slowly changed its focus over time. Over the years it started building bicycles, then bicycles and motorcycles, and finally it settled on cars in 1973.

Kia logo Design Elements

The most important elements of the Kia logo are the oval and the stylized text. Each and every element is supposed to signify something, despite the fact that many consider the Kia logo to be one of the most simplistic and uninventive logos out there. But the company’s long history begs to differ.

The Kia logo went through multiple changes over the years, particularly when switching from one domain of activity to another. However, the Kia principle remained the same throughout all of its existence – it was always meant to inspire something great that arose out of the country.

newest Kia logo

Changes and Evolution

The Kia logo history is one of evolution and success against all odds. Be it for the Optima, the Sportage, the Sorento, the Rio, the Forte, or the Soul models, the logo is the same all over the world except for South Korea. The South Korea logo is totally different than the one featured all over the rest of the world.

In fact, it’s so different that some would rather buy fake Kia emblems just so their new car has a better-looking logo that isn’t just the company’s name stylized and placed inside an oval. But we’ll talk about the alternate logo later in this article. Let’s focus on the international logo for now.


Initially, in the ‘40s, Kia used a triple diamond logo similar to the one Mitsubishi is sporting today. A gear and a small diamond containing the company’s name, integrated into the logo, made it different than Mitsubishi’s. The logo was all black.

Old tiny Kia logo

The next incarnation of the logo popped up in the 1960s, when the company started making licensed cars. The logo was a green circle with a line through it. It was similar to the letter Q, but with the line crossing through the O on its upper right-hand side instead of the lower right-hand side.

Next, in the 1980s, the current Kia logo came to be, albeit in a different color scheme – white and blue. Only minor changes occurred since then, with the logo remaining the stylized Kia inside an ellipse. Only the color scheme changed any further.


Despite only being adopted in the 1990s, the red and white corporate color palette of Kia is the official one. The white in the Kia logo is meant to represent the company’s purity, elegance, and the transparency it has for its clients, while the red is meant to suggest the company’s determination, conviction, and rapid development.

A Kia model Soul

Over the years, the Kia logo went through many colors. From green to red, to black, and silver, the logo went through many shape and colors. Even now, depending on the model and color of the vehicle, the Kia logo can vary between red, black, white, and even silver.


There really isn’t much to say about the font in which the Kia logo is written. It is a simple, custom typeface, designed specifically for the company, with few recognizable patterns.

Perhaps the most recognizable element of the Kia logo is the A. Missing its strikethrough, the A was designed in this manner so as to add an element of innovation to the overall blandness of the international logo. You can read more about the South Korean logo in the Trivia section.


The Kia logo or the emblem itself weren’t actually inspired by anything in particular. The company’s name, however, was inspired by two Sino-Korean characters. This makes Kia one of the few car maker companies that actually uses a phrase in their world-famous logo.

Newer Kia K9 model

The two Sino-Korean characters stand for “to come out” and for (East “Asia”), and together they form the phrase “to arise (or to come out of) from (East) Asia”. Meant to suggest the greatness of the car maker and the quality and confidence of the brand, the Kia logo has become incredibly famous despite its relatively obscure origins.


Perhaps the most interesting things about the South Korean car maker are its origins and the different logo available only in the company’s homeland. So, let’s start talking about how Kia evolved from bicycle parts to automobiles, as well as about the exclusive South Korean logo.

Founded in December of 1944 by Chul-Ho Kim, back when Korea was still part of Japan, Kia was initially named Kyungsung Precision Industry. They evolved from manufacturing bicycle parts to making full bicycles in 1951, and by 1957 the company was already making small licensed Honda motorcycles. By 1974, Kia was also making Mazda cars and trucks. The company was shut down in 1981 and restarted in 1986 thanks to a partnership with Ford. It has only grown ever since.

Even more interesting is the fact that the internationally famous car maker has a completely different Kia logo for the vehicles that are sold in South Korea than those sold all over the rest of the world. Unlike the very bland international logo, the Korean logo is far better looking and much more stylized.

Older Kia logo

The logo consists of a stylized letter K, often with a diagonal double line. The K’s backbone is missing completely, giving the South Korean Kia car symbol a very kinetic and slick look. This particular alternate version of the Kia logo emblem is meant to inspire the feeling of high-excitement driving in customers. Alternate Kia logo images are also preferred as a vector or .png file wallpaper to the international, far more simplistic logo.

We hope that we’ve managed to answer all of your questions regarding how the Kia logo change took place over the years, going from the old bicycle manufacturing logo to the Kia new logo. We also thought the story of the two different Kia logos was interesting, and we decided to clarify the frequent misconception that the Korean logo is a replacement.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Billy Clarke

Billy has been brought up in an artistic environment, so it’s no surprise that he is currently studying fine arts at the University of California. Influenced by his parents, both musicians, Billy has dedicated his time to exploring as many art forms as possible.

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