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Ditching 'Chevy' Puts 'Chevrolet' In the Ditch

From The New York Times:  A new ad agency got involved and now memos are flying asking that employees call it 'Chevrolet' not 'Chevy.'  "...though the (latter) 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.


“When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke (sic) 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.”
Batey and Campbell are right about employees acting as brand ambassadors and the benefits of consistency, but wrong about most everything else.  You WANT consumers making your brand their own. You WANT consumers talking about you with easy familiarity.  You WANT names becoming deeply rooted in vivid imagery and shared meaning.  You'd LOVE it if that name endured for generations.

Wouldn't you?

“Once it became an American icon, America took (the name) away from G.M.”  says one Chevy loyalist.

To me that's the heart of successful branding, not a failure in need of correcting.  Of course it's a success the new agency didn't produce and can't bill for.  And account executives are seldom promoted for telling clients to leave well enough alone.

Sometimes I wonder if brand strategists possess an ounce of self-awareness about how foolish they sound much of the time.  And given GM's recent history, they're lucky they're being talked about at all.   This is a memo begging to be ignored.

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