Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chevrolet: Sacrificing consumer connection for brand consistency

A leaked internal memo reveals that GM wants employees to quit using the Chevy moniker for its 100-year old car brand. What on earth convinced top management and Chevrolet's ad agency that this was a good idea?

Let’s face it—consumers view Chevy as a quintessential American brand. GM has undergone major restructuring over the last year (as would be expected from a company receiving bailout money from the government), however the new rebranding efforts will likely prove to be more cannibalistic than beneficial.

GM claims that by positioning the company as Chevrolet rather than Chevy it will be able to establish brand consistency. The reality—Chevrolet’s have been referred to as Chevy’s for as long as we can all remember. In the mind of consumers, the Chevy nickname does not serve as a source of confusion but rather a term of endearment, a household name that will not fade out any time soon.

Furthermore, the company believes that dropping this moniker will position Chevrolet as a more of a luxury brand. What a laughable concept—it is highly doubtful that Chevrolet will ever be seen as a luxury brand and thought comparable to more well-established brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Infiniti, etc.

No matter how hard company management pushes rebranding, they should face the fact that they Chevy name will always have a place in the hearts and minds of consumers. A recent survey showed that 3 times as many people felt the company should continue the use of the familial nickname. Shocking—not. It comes as no surprise that consumers (especially baby boomers) are reluctant to bail on the Chevy moniker. It’s not a derogatory term, but rather a valued nickname that triggers nostalgia and has throughout the years helped establish a connection between the company, its customers, and the American population in general.

A suggestion for the company: Stop disconnecting yourself from consumers. The people have spoken; you’re not Chevrolet, your Chevy. The rest of America has embraced it, so should you.