Chevy or Chevrolet? Who Cares

Posted by: David Welch on June 11, 2010

There’s corporate silliness. And then there’s what happened at Chevy, er, Chevrolet this week. Chevrolet sales vice president Alan Batey and marketing vice president Jim Campbell sent a memo to employees asking that they talk about the brand as Chevrolet, not its shortened nickname Chevy, according to a New York Times report. They want the brand to be consistent, especially since General Motors is trying to push Chevrolet in global markets where some people may not know it as Chevy. The story took on a life of its own, with some observers thinking that Chevrolet way trying to ban the use of the nickname “Chevy.”

GM has since backed away from that internal memo saying that Chevy is the brand’s beloved nickname. “We’re proud of it,” Batey said in a phone interview. “It’s great.” He said GM’s global colleagues were looking for clarity on the brand. Here in the U.S., people can call it Chevy. But around the globe, Batey wants to see it consistently called Chevrolet over time.

This all seems like much ado about nothing. Even if GM wanted to ditch the Chevy nickname, Americans won’t care. They will call it Chevy just as they have for decades. The fact is, GM may legally own its brand names, but the company doesn’t own the Chevrolet or Chevy names in the popular imagination. Not here, not overseas. The brand’s customers and fans do. If Chevy or Chevrolet buyers in China or the U.S. or Russia want to call it Chevy, let them do it. So long as they are happy with their cars, GM shouldn’t care. Given the fact that GM is trying to rejuvenate interest in its brands—especially Chevrolet, which is 72% of its U.S. sales this year—the company should be happy that consumers care enough to give the brand a nickname. The message ought to be, “call us whatever you want, just call us.”

Reader Comments

J.

June 11, 2010 5:02 PM

To GM,
Why don't you change the ugly symbol on the cars to the more classic symbol from 50 years ago. This big gold thing makes the cars look cheesy. Fire the guy who put it in place while you are at it. He has no design skill. Sorry man!

m.r.

June 12, 2010 5:44 AM

the 'futureama' BS continues at GM! as if people really care. I like the name 'chevy'! cut the BS and make good cars that buyers want and make good profits. more engineers, techs and less PR people.

busterfrogg

June 12, 2010 6:19 AM

Is it any wonder they went broke?

DeeBee

June 12, 2010 9:40 AM

I owned a Chevy -- I couldn't keep it out of the shop.
Chevy builds fraud on wheels. Good riddance.

SomeGuy

June 12, 2010 10:14 AM

The problem is that people automatically assumed that GM wanted *everyone* to stop using Chevy. That was never the case. The point was for people *inside GM* and its dealer and supplier network to stop doing it. GM's problem, once again, stems from poor communications. Rather than being clear and explicit about who they were speaking to (ie. GM employees, ad agencies used by GM, GM dealers), their memo was a little ambiguous and open to interpretation. It wouldn't have taken much for them to enumerate a list of the groups they were speaking too. They also needed to make it clear that their customers are going to still say "Chevy" and that there is nothing wrong with that. It was about print ads, TV ads, signage, etc. It worries me that GM can't communicate something as simple as this without messing it up: what else will they continue to botch?

RobinP

June 12, 2010 5:49 PM

I agree, corporate materials might stick to whatever they want for marketing or brand building reasons, but employees should be let to call it Chevy if they want - that nickname denotes affection to the brand/product - it's not only an North American nickname - I come from Cuba, where Chevrolets from the 40's and 50's still run on the streets, and guess how they call them? Chevys, same thing by most Latin American people - in Mexico they even had the Opel Corsa officially sold as the "Chevy"... plus, while in Spain I heard the term Chevy called too.
In the end, Chevrolet is privileged in the sense that it is in a select group of few of car brands that have a nickname (as far I can think of, the others are Bimmer, Merc & Lambo), so let it be.

Doug Turner

June 13, 2010 1:43 AM

This is the sort of stupidity that really makes one wonder who these guys are that get paid these really big bucks. The article I read in the NYT said the memo referred to "Coke" and "Apple" as examples of the need for this reform, ignoring the fact that according to their theory everyone should only call it Coca-Cola, and that almost no one talks about Apple, but rather its products.
It really is quite pathetic. They would do much better to work on the looks and quality of the cars than spin their wheels (some pun intended) on such drivel taken seriously.

Haris

June 13, 2010 4:29 PM

I cannot believe BusinessWeek allowed to pass this off as an educated article. GM shouldn't care if its being branded Chevy or Chevrolet. Next thing you'll say Toyota shouldn't care if its branded Camry or Camaraderie.

Commie Stooge

June 14, 2010 6:40 AM

I'm not going to buy a car from a company that can't spell the word "Cruise."

To quote Monty Python: "I will not buy this tobacconist, it is scratched!"

DanTe

June 14, 2010 11:30 AM

"But around the globe, Batey wants to see it consistently called Chevrolet over time." Yeah right! Try getting the Asians to pronounce a multi-syllable word with an R and L in the middle like Chevrolet. Chevy is a lot better sounding to the Asians.

I thought GM had ditched all these stuck up straightlaces during the restructuring?

David

June 15, 2010 6:39 AM

I agree that it seems silly discussing about this but think about it.

Ford is Ford everywhere: In the US (ok there's also Mercury, etc), South America, Europe, Asia.

GM will take as many names as you can think of (Vauxhaull for UK, Opel & Chevrolet for the rest of Europe) and that just gets confusing. Also you cannot reuse Marketing strategies if you are planning to have global products.

To me chevy just means the sub-B class vehicle we had in Mexico. So it makes sense that they stick to one global name which in fact should just be GM.

In Europe you see Ford Mondeos on different versions with the Titanium version being the equivalent to the Mercury sub-brand and that makes sense since most of the people will try to buy the high spec Titanium version. There is no need to have more brands and confuse buyers with it.

Anyway in the US you find GM, Chevrolet, Pontiac(well not anymore), GMC dealerships. What is the point of having so many names? That just doesn't make sense.

Bob H

June 15, 2010 12:21 PM

When customers started calling Federal Express 'FedEx', the company did the smart thing, and embraced the name. GM could do the same, but at this time, surely GM executives have more important things to focus on.

Schmeltz

June 16, 2010 7:55 AM

Sounds like at least 2 more people need to be shown the door at GM. I just shake my head every time I see mention of this ridiculous story.

robert braxton

June 16, 2010 6:27 PM

Well, now that they've quelched the memo, i will not diss these highly paid CHEVY people. I will move on to better CHEVY things like trying to CHEVY get a job. So let's CHEVY move on CHEVY to other CHEVY things.

Chevy truck

July 2, 2010 1:47 AM

SHAKESPEARE' once said 'What's in the name?'these simple and silent four words of SHAKESPEARE were nothing, but quietly said many things,,,,,,Same logic is applicable over here weather it be Chevrolet or Chevy it don't make too difference but the actual thing is its reputation in the market,,,,,,

marlynn

July 27, 2010 4:34 AM

I don't know what's the differences between Chevy or Chevrolet?Any thing is the name of the car itself and we have to see how our product is popular.
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New Car

Nathan

August 1, 2010 11:09 PM

I have heard that Chevy will also be dropping the Silverado name. With such a identifiable name like Silverado, why would they want to drop or change it? The Chevy pickup used to be identified with numbers (C10, C20) for instance. When they called the pickup series the "Silverado" now they had to attach extra letters or names to identify what class of Silverado it was. Going back to the old way of naming thier pickups will allow Chevy to market the higher quality packages of the truck. For instance there is a standard model, better model, and the super nice model. Now instead of the tailgate reading Chevrolet Silverado Super Crew, it would be simply Chevrolet C10 XXL or whatever they come up with. With places that sell rust repair panels or collision repair parts like www.fixmyrust.com or noramstore.com, now they will have to further identify old Chevy pickups with "C" in the title (C10), Silverado's, and now again the blasted "C" series. This will unfortunately confuse the buyer and seller when ordering parts. Make sure you are well informed of the year and model of your truck before purchasing parts. Here's to you Chevrolet!

Carl

December 24, 2010 4:22 AM


GM CEO 2 EX. VP's 2 VP's who earn in excess of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Will

never wake up,2 busy looking important,
no one cares. And they hire fool's and
they determine to call CHEVY chevrolet
Show them the DOOR. CHEVY was around before they were born. GM will never
learn.pin stripe suit& wingtips. customer's don't matter 2 them.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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