Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chevy Chase

Good to see that GM is as dumb and arrogant as ever. Someone in their marketing department has announced that, henceforth, everyone must say "Chevrolet" and can no longer use the diminutive "Chevy." OK, admiral, we'll get right on it: GM Proposes Leaving A Car's Popular Nickname in the Dust

On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II.

And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.

“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward,” said the memo, which was signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, the G.M. division’s vice president for marketing.

As many others have pointed out, and the NY Times notes, GM is relying on some questionable examples of "strong" brands that Chev***** needs to emulate:

“When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding,” the memo said. “Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.”

Although the memo cites Coke, it does not note that Coke is shorthand for Coca-Cola — or that Apple is not commonly used in reference to its products, which are known simply as iPads, iPhones and MacBooks.

"Coke" is, of course, a nickname for "Coca-Cola." Also, the development of brand nicknames is generally something that is out of the hands of the company. Indeed, companies usually embrace in the spirit of creating a sense of intimacy with their customers. Think of Radio Shack/The Shack (I thought I was the only one who called it The Shack!); McDonalds/Mickey D's; Burger King/BK Lounge. Or, how about Cadillac/Caddy? Is that the next to go?

To be fair, this was an internal memo to employees telling them to stop saying "Chevy" when talking with each other or the outside world. I guess it's kind of like how Disney insists on calling their employees "imagineers." It promotes a warm glow of exclusivity. It's easy to imagine some new guy at GM (if they ever hire anyone again...) referring to Chevy and everyone else cocking a snoot and sniffing, "This company only builds Chevrolets. "

Then, again, we're talking about Chevys here. If you want to improve their brand strength, you need to do a lot more than battle a nickname. You need to build better cars, simple as that. But, GM obviously thinks it'd be easier to start enforcing bureaucratic speech codes.

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