Posts Tagged 'Chevrolet brand'

The new new Chevrolet — or — GM is just kidding us!

About a year ago I made several posts recommending that GM retire the GM brand and rename the whole group as The Chevrolet Group.

My reasoning was that Chevrolet was a very storied brand, started by the Chevrolet brothers who were well-known race car drivers.  Right there was the heritage of a high performance company, with the humanity of the Chevrolet brothers as part of the folklore!  And the diminutive of Chevrolet, the Chevy, has become part of American culture.  Just think of Bruce Springsteen’s Racing in the Street (“I’ve got a ’57 Chevy with a 396…”).  [Note to NY Times — how could you leave out Springsteen but include Motley Crue?]

Of course GM is still GM.

But Chevrolet is only Chevrolet — it has lost the Chevy!  Or maybe not.  If you saw the front page story in yesterday’s New York Times you know that the company wants to drop their nickname, Chevy.  G.M. Proposes Leaving a Car’s Popular Nickname in the Dust – NYTimes.com

Now today GM has come out to say, just kidding folks!  According to the Times:

In an interview by phone, Mr. Batey [VP of Sales] called the memo “a rough draft” and “a bit of fun.”

G.M. Backtracks on Chevy Memo – NYTimes.com

You can also check out the GM Facebook page to see how they are handling this bit of news.

So here’s my strategic recommendation.  Move forward with calling the entire company The Chevrolet Group.  Drop the GM name.  As the name for the overall company, Chevrolet is terrific.  And within the Chevrolet division, well…why mess with a good Chevy?

Is GM a “ghost” brand?

So for a few months I have been pitching the idea that GM should be renamed The Chevrolet Corporation.  

And at first it seemed like GM was determined to continue down the path of the recent past.  Over the past 6 or 7 years there has been a concerted effort to create more meaning and purpose around the GM brand.  It began to show up on products as the badge of excellence.  There was advertising around GM itself.  Even the logo was updated.

And then the company deflated along with the rest of the economy.  The brand portfolio was streamlined, as whole areas of business were sold off.  The strongest brands remained.

And yet GM was still there, too.  It was a catch-basin of bad reputation.  More to the point, the cost of maintaining an additional GM brand goes against the greater economies that the company is trying to achieve.

So my observation that they would be best served by replacing the GM brand with The Chevrolet Corporation did not seem to be an option they were actually considering as the company publicly announced their plans.

And then…

And then I saw this in the NYTimes about how GM is dropping the “GM” logo, their “badge of excellence” from all new vehicles.

Introducing the New Chevrolet Corporation on June 1st!

It takes more than one Indianapolis 500 car driver and builder to create a great automobile company.  In fact it takes three.  Arthur, Louis and Gaston Chevrolet where all experienced Indy 500 car builders and drivers.  And they built the Chevrolet Company.

These three brothers had a motto “Never Give Up”  And they didn’t.  

That is why on June 1st GM is making an official announcement that the company is being renamed The Chevrolet Corporation.  The unofficial motto of the company is “Never Give Up”.  And the winning tradition of the Chevrolet brothers is spreading across the company.  Several sources have said that market research showed the faceless GM brand never had strong emotional connections with any of its audiences — not even internally.  Despite several efforts to re-brand GM, the new management has recognized the importance of the Chevrolet brand and heritage.  One executive who asked to remain anonymous said, “The American people feel much better about bailing out The Chevrolet Corporation than they do about bailing out GM”

Okay, so maybe this is just my imagination running away with me.  One can imagine a brighter future, can’t they?  

After all, it makes sense on so many levels to make this change.  The Chevrolet Corporate has all of the elements of a great narrative.  

And if GM is reading this, I would be happy to come out to the Renaissance Center and go through the reasoning and implications.  I’ll even pay for my own ticket.

Is it time to retire the GM brand?

As GM undergoes a renovation to get it back on the road to healthy, there will be a lot of discussion of which brands to keep and which to jettison.  In that spirit, I would like to nominate the GM brand itself as the first to be retired.

The GM brand is getting rusty with age. 

The rebuilt company should adopt one of the market brands for the corporate name.  This would have several advantages for the new company.  

1) It will signal a shift from the past practices which contributed to the company being in a ditch.  

2) It will have cost efficiencies since the company will save the costs of supporting a corporate brand that doesn’t have a direct benefit to the market brands.  For instance, Chevrolet benefits little if at all from the GM corporate advertising campaign. 

3) It can provide a new direction for the company’s narrative.  The Chevrolet brothers have an engaging story about how they came to America and founded their automotive company — as well as their shared passion for racing.  Knowing that the co-founder was a winner of the Indianapolis 500 gives the company more than just a human face.

Now the problems of GM are not solely of their own making.  And branding alone cannot solve the economic pileup on the financial highway.  It would be unrealistic to believe that changing the shape of the company’s narrative will substitute for the hard work of rebuilding the organization.  On the other hand, it will be much more difficult to rebuild the company without reshaping the company’s narrative.

Using the Narrative Branding (R) method will help the new GM to know that their branding is always in service of the business strategy.  Their branding is not disconnect from the business.  And branding is not the driver of business strategy.

It would be a brilliant move to announce the retirement of the GM brand on the day that Bob Lutz official retires.  It will be this coming April 1st.  April Fools Day.  An end of one chapter in the company’s history and the start of a new chapter.


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