There is a short list of brands I can say I truly love, and I imagine most people are the same. It takes a lot for a brand to rise above the ranks of “liked a lot” into true love, and when that happens it reaches a rarified place in the hearts of consumers nearly possible to unseat. This is how I feel about Kia, especially after spending several days last week with what has become my new Kia Family. I’m smitten.

front grill of Kia Stinger

Kia Motors of America makes beautiful cars, highly engineered and extraordinarily well made. Maybe known best for its fun personality and those rad hamsters, Kia is a brand that also signifies dependability, affordability and responsibility. But that’s not heart, that’s mind. The true magic of the Kia brand is woven into its DNA, created, given life, and nurtured by the core corporate team that represents Kia USA. They’ve found that happy balance of heart AND mind that has resulted in a world-class brand with real authenticity.

Kia Soul EV 2018

The 2018 Kia Soul EV is racy, fun and incredibly fuel efficient. (Photo courtesy of Kia Motors)

The passion of these leaders is undeniable – and very infectious. A newcomer to this band, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I sure as hell did not expect to walk away talking about love.

From the get-go, I could tell something was different. Something special. A crackle of excitement in the air gave hint to a bigger experience than the Kia Ride & Drive I thought I was attending.

You see, my invitation was to attend a social media influencer event hosted by Kia at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego. With a cool rock and roll theme, the invite teased the idea of driving the new Kia Stinger and Kia’s other latest models and having fun while learning about their 2018/2019 line of cars.

Kia line-up from above

A birds eye view of the Kia line-up for our Ride and Drive event in San Diego.

Yes, Kia makes cars, but so much more. Kia is a brand that makes relationships, and brings people into their fold like family. (Another word I do not take lightly – family). Yet these people, these cars, this brand have found a way to make lasting memories and connections with people beyond driving a kick-ass Kia Stinger or an amazingly fuel-efficient Kia Soul EV.

Kia’s power is in the emotional connection they create with regular people like you and me. They have found a way to make us feel welcome. Safe. Accepted. Even celebrated. Who would expect that from a brand, let alone a car brand?

Kia is doing something very right. I never thought about driving a Kia, but now I know I would. Not only because the design is impressive (which it is), or the cars are well made (which they are), or the value is incredible (which it is) – because of the people and the way the brand makes me feel.

Karaoke at the Kia influencers event

The Kia Family Singers at their debut performance. They killed it.

Walking into a group of 50+ people hand-chosen for this Kia event in San Diego I saw a few friends I know well, but the real experience was making a ton of new ones. All authentic, not forced, and all centered around a car brand. Great people from all around the country and as different from each other as we could all be, and now (quite literally since we all sang karaoke together) my band of brothers and sisters in the Kia Family.

And this, my friends, is how people fall in love with brands. Bravo, Kia. Bravo.

 

USS Midway Museum with Kia Stinger

The Kia Stinger looks right at home parked near the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

 

*Featured image courtesy of Cielo Roth Photography