Kia’s new logo looks, well, a lot like its old one. Just sayin’.

Most of us have been around long enough to recall when Coca-Cola muddled around with its original formula, or when McDonald’s tried to sell hamburgers made out of seaweed. Both were object lessons that you don’t mess around blithely with a very successful product. The same logic applies to the products’ trademarks: Can you see McDonald’s ever giving up on the golden arches, or Nike abandoning the swoosh? In the world of cars, it’s equally difficult to envision Ford jettisoning the blue oval that was once applied to the Model T, the three-pointed star going behind a cloud at Mercedes-Benz, or Chevrolet canning the bowtie in favor of some shapeless, organic logo. Reconfiguring an automotive brand is never a step that’s undertaken without a great deal of deliberation. Consider the case of Kia, which this week, entered the new year with a new-look logo.

You will be excused for wondering what, exactly, is new, or what the point of all this may be. It’s the initial element of a sort-of rebranding of the South Korean automaker, with an accompanying revision to the corporate slogan, that’s scheduled to be formally rolled out in the middle of the month. The new logo is more gently stylized than the block of simple-font letters in the oval that preceded. In the company’s view, the new logo evokes “symmetry,” “rhythm” and “rising,” the last not to be confused with the post-9/11 song by Bruce Springsteen. What we’re told is, this is supposed to evoke a hand-lettered signature. It’s in keeping with the new slogan, which was also leaked ahead of the big reveal: “Movement that inspires.” Need more inspiration? Check out the Kia channel on YouTube to see the actual corporate presentation.

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