Flat Panel TV Naming

By Mark Skoultchi

January 23, 2008

Have you ever seen a brand name and wondered, “What the heck is that supposed to mean?” Even a naming specialist like me has this kind of “WTF experience” once in a while. My most recent head-scratching name conundrum involved the brand name Regza. Banners and posters were plastered all over CES in Las Vegas this year, advertising Regza, Toshiba’s brand of LCD TVs. As my brain was bombarded with the word, I kept wondering, “What does Regaza mean, and how is it appropriate for a flat panel TV brand?” I think I may have discovered Toshiba’s naming rationale, and you’ll be surprised at the answer.

A quick preface on TV names. Certainly there are good reasons to avoid overused word parts for television and video brands. The most trite include: Lum (Latin: light), and Vi- (suggests vision, life, and path). To stand out in a crowded and somewhat boring landscape of lum and vid/viv/veo names, I wholeheartedly endorse the use of more evocative or fanciful names. Some flat panel TV companies have created strong product names, while others have only succeeded in creating clunky, confusing names.

Here are five flat panel TV brands that I have investigated, evaluated, and ranked in order from worst to best.
The Worst: Regza

After much digging, I found out that there was rationale behind Toshiba’s flat panel TV brand. “Regza was coined from the literary German word ‘regsam’ and connotes vibrant, dynamic qualities.” The German dictionary says regsam means “mentally active.” I suppose this is an okay association, though it stands in stark contrast to the term couch potato! I have two major beefs with this name. First, German-derived brand names aren’t easily parsed by English consumers. This is especially true for such an obscure word as regsam. My second problem with the name is the reverse engineered acronym: Real Expression Guaranteed by amaZing Architecture. Why create a belabored acronym out of an already weird name?

Fourth: Viera

Generally I like this name and it’s connotations. Panasonic did a nice job creating a brand name with a pleasant tonality and relevant semantic content. “>According to Panasonic, “Viera means a new visual era…” My one serious issue with this name is that it completely blends in with the million other TV brand names that start with Vid-, Viv-, Veo-, Vi-.

Third: Kuro

Pioneer says that Kuro is a Japanese word that means “deep, black, and penetrating.” This is a clever and evocative story to tell for a visual technology brand. For the average consumer who doesn’t know what the name means in Japanese, it functions solely as an abstract brand name. However, even in the abstract the word sounds vaguely Japanese which suggests a sense of cutting-edge, premium technology. And, the fact that it has only four letters and a CVCV construction make it a very powerful brand name with lots of marketing potential.

Second: Bravia

Sony’s brand Bravia is a few notches above the rest. The name is coined from the word “bravo” suggesting a premium entertainment experience. The word part “via” is also built in, giving the name an element of activity and direction. It’s easy to say and highly evocative which are both great features for a new product name. Someone on the nets suggested that Bravia stands for “Best Resolution Audio Visual Integrated Architecture.” But, since I couldn’t find any mention of the reverse engineered acronym on Sony’s site, I have to assume (and hope!) that this wasn’t a pre-meditated rationale for the name.

Our fellow naming specialists over at Interbrand were responsible for creating this name. Bravo Interbrand! And bravo Sony Bravia!

The Best: Aquos

This name takes the cake as the most evocative and easily understood flat panel TV brand name. The folks at Interbrand did a nice job coining Aquos from aqua, the Latin word for water. What better way to suggest a liquid crystal display technology? Sharp successfully chose a brand name that is short and highly familiar. Because of this familiarity with the name’s root word, it doesn’t take much (if any) explanation to make the connection: Aquos = Aqua = Water = Liquid Crystal Display. Clarity of visual experience is a connotation that many TV and video brands attempt to communicate in their brand names. Some do it poorly, some do it well, and other knock it out of the park! In my humble opinion, Aquos is a grand slam.

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