Brand Police: When Brands Go Horribly Wrong…


I doubt it's a 'Chevy'

There was a time when the marking teams held sway in organizations. When Nike was rising to the top, selling bits of rubber at 5x the competition’s prices, it seemed that a simple logo and marketing campaign was the key to success. But, as the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The marketing teams –drunk with this power– started enforcing brand etiquette, like some kind of secret police: “Our logo should never be used on a blue background!” or how about “You should never say Chevy, but ‘Chevrolet’!”

The latter isn’t some throwback to some corporate debate from the 80′s, it happened TODAY.

One of the biggest signs that a company is on its last legs (and I, unfortunately, have first hand experience with this), is that it starts flagellating wildly trying to do anything that will right the ship. Some marketeer has convinced the top executive at GM that it is somehow important to call their ‘Chevrolet’ brand ‘Chevrolet’ instead of ‘Chevy’.  It is under the auspice of ‘reducing confusion’ in internal communications:

“I get calls from international colleagues asking me ‘What is a Chevy,” said German-born GM spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin. “It takes quite a long time to explain to them.”

How long does it take to say “You know when you call Alexandre ‘Alex’, it’s like that.”

Instead they waste the time and energy of their employees bringing attention to this ‘issue’, instead of focusing on the key elements of building a brand. I can just imagine the remaining employees of GM rolling their eyes en-masse when –those that still read corporate communications– review this corporate memo. Basically, your executive is telling the world that its employees are too stupid to use your own company name.

Remember guys, your ‘brand’ is your promise to your customer, so how about you quit navel-gazing and BUILD SOME BETTER CARS!

So before you hit ‘send’ on that next company-wide memo, ask yourself: “Is this helping us build a better car?”

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2 Responses

  1. Hard to believe that any executive is spending any time worrying about this rather than the real issues at hand, which is figuring out how to profitably build the highest quality, most fuel-efficient and attractive people-movers possible.

    I also think they are ignoring a huge customer base who loves the ‘Chevy’ moniker. I mean this one verse alone now sounds silly, and there are lots more examples (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_songs_use_the_word_chevy):

    So bye bye Miss American Pie
    Drove my *Chevrolet* to the levy but the levy was dry
    And them good ‘ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye singin’
    This’ll be the day that I die
    This’ll be the day that I die.

  2. What’s next? Are they gonna ban the use of “vette”?? ‘Our customers might confuse it for a pet doctor!’

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