That’s “Chevrolet” to you
This just in: The New York Times reports that employees at General Motors’ headquarters in Detroit are being encouraged to use the brand name “Chevrolet” instead of the long-popular nickname “Chevy.”
Oh, GM. Or should I say “General Motors”?
The switch to the more formal moniker brings to mind an analogous experience in my own career. In the days leading up to the dotcom bust, I was working for a very large Web consultancy that began encouraging employees to adopt more formal attire. “In these more sober economic times…” was how the memo read, referring to the fact that the company was bleeding money at an astronomical rate. Employees were told that collarless shirts were no longer acceptable, and jeans should be worn with discretion. Rather than instilling professionalism and pride in employees, the wardrobe recommendations made us feel even more disconnected from a brand we knew was struggling.
I imagine this is the case with Chevrolet’s employees.
The soul of a brand has little to do with dress codes or names. It resides with the employees who are the brand’s daily caretakers. Legislating formality does not elevate brand perception in the eyes of employees or the public. In fact, it can underscore management’s disconnection from their own brand reality. It also runs the risk of casting the brand as inauthentic. And no brand wants to be inauthentic.
I doubt the American public will ever abandon the name Chevy. My parents drove a Chevy Impala convertible in the early '70s. That car will always be a Chevy Impala convertible. If Chevrolet wants to revitalize its brand, taking its popular nickname away from the American people is probably not the best approach.