Nissan has introduced an affordable new crossover utility vehicle (that means somewhere between an SUV and a hatchback/wagon): the Kicks. The subcompact will be sold globally, replacing the Juke in the U.S. Overall, reviews so far have been pretty good, particularly on the value-to-price metric.
But will the name drive traffic? I say it’s green lights all the way.
Like the iconic song, Kicks suggests driving fun and freedom. (To our younger readers: the R&B standard “Route 66” was a smash hit for Nat King Cole and included the refrain “Get your kicks on Route 66.” You may be more familiar with the song as performed by John Mayer, which appeared in Pixar’s Cars. That film’s setting was a small town on a highway based on Route 66.)
The name sells the light and playful yet very practical personality of the Kicks. It’s the car for kicking around town with family, friends, or other sidekicks. The elevated seats and roomy, premium-for-the price interior allow you to kick back in style.
Expressions like kickstart, kickoff, kick up your heels, and kicks meaning athletic shoes suggest fast, agile action, which may help customers overlook the car’s lack of pickup with only 125 hp. And, that the word has multiple positive associations means consumers can fill in the meaning that most appeals to them, which is a cool, and smart, way to build brand connections.
According to various auto media, Kicks is a vast improvement over its American predecessor, the Juke. As a name, the new model certainly kicks butt. It expresses all the agility and fun of Juke but with a far more familiar word. That’s particularly important for a global audience. (Plus for me, without the addition of joint or box, juke is a bit too close to jerk.)
The only problem I see with Kicks is that the plural form of the word can lead to somewhat awkward syntax. “The Kicks is in the driveway.” But as with the cereal Kix, consumer will adjust to treating the word as a singular.
It’s such a fitting car name, and a lexical English word to boot, I’m surprised Nissan was able to get the trademark.