Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why is Toyoda's company named Toyota?

In 1936, when Kiichiro Toyoda decided to build cars, he needed a name for his new venture. His father, Sakichi Toyoda created a company Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. in 1926, so Kiichiro wanted to name his venture in the same fashion. 

In order to drive publicity, Toyoda held a contest to establish a logo for his company, which turned out to be a huge success -  2,7000 people answered the call. The winning design consisted of the word "Toyota" — no "d" — depicted in a stylized form of the Japanese katakana alphabet. The model AA shown on the image was the first car to bear the new name and logo. 

There are many explanations about changing the name from "Toyoda" to "Toyota":

1. Lucky eight. It is said that the name was chosen because the number of strokes to write Toyota in Japanese is eight. "Eight is a lucky number in Japanese because when you write it in Chinese characters, the shape of the character is wider towards the bottom," explains Mika Kizu, a lecturer in Japanese at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

2. Easier for westerners to pronounce and simply sounds better. Another explanation is that "Toyota" offers a softer final syllable than "Toyoda," and it rolls off the tongue better for westerners, which will help the internationalization of this Japanese brand.

3. Break from Japanese agricultural tradition"Toyoda" means "fertile rice fields" in Japanese, so it is also likely that Toyoda named his new venture "Toyota" to de-associate it from Japanese tradition and give it an international image. 

There are many other doubts about the name, which keeps this giant automobile interesting and mysterious. Three generations of Toyoda family have not only showcased the Japanese local car factory to the world, but also surprised the western competitors by creating and pioneering the "Lean Manufacturing" SCM methodology. 

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