September 28, 2005
Areva: Divinely Inspired and Consistently Inconsistent
Areva consists of five main companies: T&D, Cogema, Framatome ANP, Technicatome and FCI.
The name Areva was inspired by the Arevalo abbey in the Spanish city of Areválo. The derivation of Areválo is uncertain, but the city's historians speculate that it comes from a Celtic compound meaning "against the wall" or "near the wall." The Latinized form Arevalorum dates back to the year 1090.
Why Arevalo? According to Areva's website, a French business daily referred to the merger as "a Cistercian abbey that weds perfect symmetry to great dignity." Though it's doubtful the average visitor to the Areva website will (or should) think of monasteries, I think Areva has both dignity and symmetry as a name, starting and ending as it does with the same letter.
In addition, it seems to me the name has the benefit of being easy to pronounce, at least for anyone who speaks a Romance language or a Latin-influenced language like English. It's a name with a sense of movement in its root "rev," a fluidity invoked by its similarity to "river" and its false-cognate similarity to English "arrive." In fact, Areva does not mean anything at all in any of the Romance languages.
I consider these all good associations for the name of an energy company.
Less felicitous is the similarity to the name of the cold sore treatment Abreva®, presumably linked to "abbreviate."
I found the implementation of Areva anything but an example of "perfect symmetry."
- The title of Areva's homepage is "Living better through advanced technology." This is both bland and uninformative. It doesn't tell us how our lives will be better, nor what kind of technology the company provides.
- Areva's homepage indicates the A in Areva is for Advocate.
- The voice over in the Areva TV commercial ends with, "A new generation for energy generation."
- Finally, the super, or text on the screen, at the end of the commercial states, "Areva. Energy Experts."
In sum, I think Areva is a good name for the combined companies; but the implementation is a work in progress at best.
Is it time for the marketing department to go back to the Arevalo abbey for inspiration?
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