I have been blogging for a long time now, and have had the privilege of working with a lot of what people call “big brands.” Like many bloggers, I have a list–yes a literal physical LIST of “dream brands” that I have wanted to work with. As my blog has evolved, so has my special list, and I have always worked hard towards making contacts and connections, networking, and doing all the right things to get noticed by brands.
Why is my list what it is and why are there certain brands on it? Well, a few reasons. Let’s break them into three categories. First, some brands on my list are brands I just absolutely adore and would love to experience their product, service, or destination. Next, some brands are on the list because it’s a status thing–I mean let’s be real here. We can all say we aren’t competitive and that we don’t care when we get passed on an invite to an event or for a sponsored post, but it can be hard to not take things personally…so yes, some of the brands on my list are there simply for the sheer fact that when you get invited to work with them you KNOW it’s a special honor. #SorryNotSorry
Then there is a third category. A category that isn’t as glamorous or high profile to most. This category has brands in it that sure, you have heard of, but maybe you don’t know much about. You know that they work with influencers, and you are intrigued, but that’s about as far as it goes.
I’m going to be REALLY REAL with you right now. Before this past week, Kia fell in that little forgotten third category for me. The only thing I knew about Kia was that when I was a kid, people used to make fun of how crappy of a car it was. Literally, that. was. it. (I know, I’m so embarrassed to even admit that y’all.) So no, they weren’t on my special A list and I wasn’t constantly obsessed with reading tweets and recaps about the brand, desperately trying to make a connection. It wasn’t like that for me, but boy do I feel silly now, because it SHOULD have absolutely been like that for me now that I know what I know.
Do you ever get that really warm fuzzy happy feeling where you just can’t stop smiling, and you aren’t even sure why? That’s how I felt for the less than 48 hours I was in San Diego last week spending time with the amazing folks at Kia. My misconceptions about the brand quickly did a 180, not only as a blogger, but as a consumer.
I had no idea that nearly 40% of all Kia vehicles sold here are assembled in the U.S.A.
I had no idea that Kia is in the top 6 best car brands based on road test performance and reliability.
I had no idea they are in the top 3 in reliability according to Consumer Reports.
I had no idea they have been #1 in initial quality for two straight years according to J.D. Power.
Y’all, that’s just the basics. There is so much more that I learned when I actually got behind the wheel of the Stinger and the Sorento. Super classy, luxurious, and techie, these vehicles truly blew my expectations for the brand out of the water. I love a good underdog story, and I feel like Kia has a great one to tell. They were at the bottom, like the bottom of the bottom as far as car brands go, and just look at them now. I have only been in their “family” for a short time but I can’t help but burst with pride at how far they have come.
Now back to being an influencer. I tend to go off on tangents.
As I said, I have worked with a lot of brands over the years, and have been a part of a lot of different influencer programs. I have had some good experiences and some horrible experiences. I don’t talk much about it on the blog because I am a proper and classy southern lady, but I have had promises broken, contracts negated, and lies told to me by brands. It’s sad but true, and being taken advantage of is never fun. (especially when it’s online and you just want to reach through the screen and throat punch someone…Wait, what?) In the short time I have worked with this brand, I quickly learned that they truly treat everyone like family, and all of the Kia team I met are freaking amazing humans that I am lucky to call “my people.”
It truly is magic when a brand gets it right. Right with their influencers, and with their consumers. You guys, this brand has knocked both out of the park. I am one of those people that has had the same type of car since I was in college just because that was the “reliable brand” my family always bought. I never bothered to learn or explore any other options, and it’s a darn shame. For someone who thrives on reading and doing research for a living, I’m not really sure what I was thinking.
What I do know, is that I want my next car to be a Kia if at all possible. I am quite sentimental, and I tend to attach emotions and experiences to inanimate objects, and you bet I’m going to attach every little bit of amazing experience and emotion felt with my new Kia family to my next vehicle purchase. From the car karaoke, to the Krispy Kreme donuts and warm hospitality, I will remember it all.
Like I said, I’m quite the lucky girl to have gotten to work with a lot of brands on my dream list. It’s fun and a little surprising when one sneaks up on me and adds itself to my list without me even realizing it’s happening. That’s Kia for you. Stealing hearts, and being unforgettable. Keep it up y’all. You are doing an excellent job.
Ppsstttt: Are you heading to Mom 2.0? Kia will be there so MAKE SURE you go say hello. Tell them I sent you. I wish I was going, but unfortunately it’s not in the budget to fly across the country, especially when I have to save up for my new car. 😉
Disclosure: I was provided with flights, meals, and hotel accommodations for my trip to San Diego to experience Kia for myself, however all opinions are my own.