As further evidence that Americans like to worry about insignificant things when there are much more important issues demanding of our time and attention, today General Motors backtracked from a memorandum that was leaked yesterday regarding the usage of “Chevy” versus “Chevrolet”. Apparently, the marketing department wanted to clarify that all official communications should refer to the brand as “Chevrolet”.
And then the shit-storm hit with a vengeance. From talking heads to Skeeter the toothless El Camino driver, a bunch of know-nothings started screaming about what a mistake it was for GM to instruct to minimize the official use of the Chevy name. I’m sure there are some out there who think that this is a big socialist plot by our Kenyan President at the helm of Government Motors to destroy all that is good and godly in ‘Merica.
Not surprisingly, GM issued a press release containing one part apology and another clarification in hopes of receiving forgiveness from all those die hard Chevy fans, which evidently are different from Chevrolet fans.
DETROIT — Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet. It is a passion we share and one we do not take for granted.
We love Chevy. In no way are we discouraging customers or fans from using the name. We deeply appreciate the emotional connections that millions of people have for Chevrolet and its products.
In global markets, we are establishing a significant presence for Chevrolet, and need to move toward a consistent brand name for advertising and marketing purposes. The memo in question was one step in that process.
We hope people around the world will continue to fall in love with Chevrolets and smile when they call their favorite car, truck or crossover “Chevy.”
I’ve spent plenty of years doing marketing, branding, imaging, and the like. In the past I’ve taken GM to the woodshed for its piss-poor marketing efforts, but today I’m going to come to its rescue. The fact of the matter is that Branding 101 indicates that names need to be consistent. This is exactly what GM was doing: requiring that official materials and communication use the name “Chevrolet”, which is the very name put on all the products the company sells. While there have been “Chevy” badges here and there, “Chevrolet” has always been the primary name on its vehicles since 1911.
This doesn’t mean that the nickname Chevy becomes verboten. It just means that any mention of the car by the company, advertisers, promotional partners, and dealers needs to use the big-boy name, not the nickname. One might also speculate that since Chevrolet is more formal, it helps to imply a larger degree of sophistication or seriousness, which might be needed to prepare for the single most important and significant automotive product launch since the self-starting Cadillac: the Chevy Volt.
I can use the name Chevy…I don’t work for the company, and neither do car clubs, enthusiasts, NASCAR zealots, and other bowtie-tattooed true-believers who all can continue to use Chevy, even if GM requires Chevrolet to be the only name specified for official communications.
Let’s congratulate GM for doing something they should have done a long time ago…and then let’s focus on much more important issues, like how we’re going to get all that oil in the Gulf out, refined and into our cars.