DETROIT – Relax, Chevrolet fanatics. Turns out you can take your “Chevy to the levee” or any other place you please.

General Motors Co. on Thursday backed off what it called a “poorly worded” internal memo that asked employees to refer to the brand only as “Chevrolet” instead of its long-standing and well-known nickname.

GM said in a statement that it “in no way” is discouraging anybody from using the name Chevy. The memo was part of an effort to develop a consistent brand name as GM tries to broaden its global presence.

“We hope people around the world will continue to fall in love with Chevrolets and smile when they call their favorite car, truck or crossover ‘Chevy,”‘ the automaker said.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the statement was meant to make clear that the company is “honored and flattered” that the brand is so popular, regardless of what people call it.

The original memo, he said, “made it look like maybe we were telling other people other people not to use ‘Chevy.’

“Mostly this was just trying to train (employees),” he said. “Historically, especially recently, we’ve tended to use the two interchangeably.”

GM said the original memo, obtained by The New York Times, spurred an “emotional debate” that reverberated on social media networks and websites Thursday.

“I don’t care if you call it a Chevrolet, a Chevy or a Wookie, just make something that works and is affordable,” Kyle White of Sacramento, Calif., wrote on thecarconnection.com.

Chevy has been ingrained in American culture for decades and has been mentioned in numerous pop songs. Among the best known: Don McLean’s “American Pie,” whose signature chorus begins, “Bye bye, Miss American pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.”