A New Customer Experience for a Car Brand

We deliver brands to people. We put better values to a brand and help people experience the brand in a better way. In order to create a more communicative brand, we need to think a lot, deeply understand the values of the brand, and approaches to the meaning of the brand as well. With the Soul project, we began to think about the experiences the customer would have with the second version of Soul. We wanted to find out critical moments between a car and its user and in the whole process to meet Soul, including payment, sales, delivery, and the first driving. The Soul project with Kia Motors was a comprehensive process of experience branding – we defined the essence of soul, interacted and communicated with customers, and offered diverse experiences to them. Here is sampartner’s Soul project, which continued for a year.


The Birth of Soul

In 2008, Soul of Kia Motors was born with a unique design, as the representative icon of young, challenging Kia. It was the first “box-car” model in Korea, which enhanced design competitiveness of Kia Motors, and its cute and solid appearance made it to be the steady seller car with the highest share in the North American automobile market. However, Korean car market was strictly segmented based on the car’s quality level and cost-effectiveness, and Soul was regarded to be ambiguous, which had a mixed image of a light-weight car and a medium, small SUV. Eventually, customers’ perception to Soul was being fixed as an uncommon car for minor taste. In order to break away from this misconception, Kia Motors released a full-change model of Soul in the summer of 2013. Six years after the launch of the first Soul, the second generation Soul displayed improved details and completeness, while inheriting the first Soul’s signature design elements. Also, its diverse customizing packages greatly impressed potential customers who insisted on personal characteristics.


Designing Customers’ Experiences

Who might be major customers of Soul? We tried to think about how to interact with more customers. The journey of searching for the brand identity of Soul required all-inclusive missions. We needed to figure out the whole experiences customer had while purchasing a car, and define intimacy between a car and its driver. Also, we collected many interesting episodes related to the background and procedure of Soul’s development as well as its engineers. Lastly, we interviewed several people who were actually driving a Soul.

사람들은 그들의 자동차에 어떤 감정을 가지고 있을까? 포커스그룹인터뷰

Focus group interview – What feelings do people have toward their cars?


Soul 개발자 인터뷰

Interview of Soul developers

We first listened to the dynamic history of Soul’s birth and the development process, from many engineers, designers, and marketing specialists who created the second generation Soul. Their stories told us a great deal of struggles and efforts were required to make a car, and we could see how passionate they were about Soul. Their tremendous efforts seemed to have been underestimated, or even neglected, by customers.


Soul의 독자적인 아이덴티티 찾는 Co-Creation Workshop

A co-creation workshop to discover Soul’s unique identity

What is Soul? Customers with various backgrounds and many experts worked together to make Soul’s brand identity convincing from a customers’ view. We assumed Soul to be a man, and described his taste, lifestyle, characteristics, and interests using keywords and images. Every moment of this practice was worthwhile to get a fresh, creative insight. In addition, as sampartners believed in an insight derived from an enjoyable experience, all members of the Soul project team started to commute by driving Soul.

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A Book that tells All about Soul

A good brand can be easily delivered to customers. An effective plan we chose to deliver the Soul story to customer was to publish a brand book. While learning about Soul, we discovered that the Soul brand had vast stories beyond customers’ curiosities. So, we believed we could fill the gap between the brand and customers by establishing a brand identity to tell interesting stories. As most customers rarely get to know how their cars were produced and what efforts it took to be completed, a story book must offer a great media to improve their understanding.

PowerPoint 프레젠테이션

Idea – Concept Sketch – Mock-up – Concept Car – Mass Production

We decided to contain the whole process of Soul production in the brand book. Just like a documentary film, it would reduce the emotional gap between the brand and the product, and we recorded the entire process.

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기후적응실험. 세계의 모든 양산차가 이곳에서 테스트를 거친다

Climate adaptation test. All mass-produced cars in the world go through this test here.

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Kia Motors manufacturing factory in Gwangju

The First Car Brand Story Book in Korea

Recording the process from assembly lines to customers was a new, amazing journey. We planned the contents of the book, and started to write scripts, draw idea sketches, and work on graphics. We also conducted several case studies in order to give a fresh impetus and pleasurable experience to customers. A brand story book is commonly published for international car brands, but the Soul book was the first in Korea and we tried our best to make the best example. Although Soul was not very popular in the domestic market, the brand book will help customers understand the true nature and attractions of Soul.


We examined every product and discovered characteristics distinguishable from the first generation Soul, as well as potential attractions to draw customers’ attention. We took thousands of photos of Soul, and enjoyed the process of shooting and selecting fascinating shots.

W호텔에서 개최된 Soul 런칭 및 Soul book 전시 행사

Soul launching event and the Soul book exhibition at W Hotel


Launch of the Second Generation Soul and Its Brand Story Book

A launching ceremony is a typical event for a new car brand. However, Soul’s launching event was unprecedented because it included a session for introducing its brand story book. The brand story books published by long-time efforts were displayed in the event venue. It was a moment of opening a new chapter, when the book played a pivotal role in promoting the Soul brand and creating a close relationship between the car and customers.

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    Kia Motors


    Brand Strategy - sampartners
    Verbal & Visual Identity - sampartners
    Research & Workshop - sampartners
    Editorial Design - sampartners
    Photo - sampartners & Noon Pictures studio










    Printing & Production - Sewha Print

  • TEAM of ©sampartners

    Executive Director - 이창호, 김지훈
    Creative Director - 강주현
    Designer - 양한아, 류기백
    Planner & Researcher - 이영민, 배지훈, 이수정, 김수지
    Photographer - 진성섭