From our What’s in a Name Department (Bureau of Style over Substance) this just in:
General Motors executives sent a memo to employees at its Detroit headquarters this week instructing them to stop calling the company’s most famous product a “Chevy.” Henceforth the popular line of cars may only be referred to as “Chevrolet.”
“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 explained.
To that end, it admonished workers to avoid using the word “Chevy” not only when talking to dealers and advertisers but even among family and friends.
What were they thinking? Leave aside the fact that “Coke” is as ubiquitous a nickname for Coca-Cola as “Chevy” is for Chevrolet. Why would anyone want to tamper with a tag that’s already one of the most recognizable names on the planet and an icon of popular culture?
For a company that only a year ago had to be bailed out of bankruptcy by American taxpayers, and that’s still mostly owned by the federal government, G.M. ought to be trying to sell as many “Chevvies” as it can. Scrapping a nickname that embodies half the appeal of its flagship brand is just the kind of delusionary management decision-making that got the company into trouble in the first place.
G.M.’s problems aren’t going to be solved by banning the word “Chevy,” but by building better cars that people actually want to buy. If it can bring itself to concentrate on that, the matter of what to call the cars will take care of itself.