Why is it that corporations are seeking to shed a regional or national identity? Norwich Union, a British insurance company that until now was from Norwich, is now Aviva. It has thus lost not only its physical setting but also the sense of mutual benefit and society contained in the word ‘union’. It has opted for a combination of disassociated and abstract vowel and consonant sounds that are pleasingly (presumably) palindromic, but vapid. If one were to attempt to examine this new Franken-title etymologically, however, it might yield the prefix ‘a-‘, meaning ‘without’, and the word ‘viva’, derived from the latin verb vivere, to live. Instead of the vaguely pleasing generic infantile vocalisation they sought, they have ended up with a name that means ‘without life’ – or perhaps ‘inanimate’ or ‘dead’. Had I been in the boardroom on the fateful day that this corporation disassociated itself from the world of the living, I might have suggested instead that ‘Euviva’ could better suggest ‘The Good Life’. This would probably be equally vacuous branding, though, as the financial world has clearly never been in the business of providing a good life for any but those dining at the upper reaches of the food chain. With the present state of the economy ‘Nonliving Insurance, Inc.’ might be apt branding.
In the States there is an energy company called ‘Avista’, which might mean ‘without a clearly framed view’. Shades of Enron?