What Powers a Name?

14 09 2010

The other day, I was driving through one of the arterial roads of Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and I saw a new office complex. My eyes fell on the board being erected. I could see the logo KVK written stylishly. My instinct told me, it would be another power company. I confirmed later it indeed was a power company – KVK Energy and Infrastructure.

Yesterday, I was having a chat over phone with a friend. He mentioned a hot stock , BGR Energy, a Chennai based power equipment supplier.

Unconnected events and unconnected information. Yet, I had my own a-ha moment , this morning.

Recall  the power companies that you  know. The pattern of their names pattern will soon become evident to you –   three letters, followed by  word -‘Power’ or ‘Energy’ . Besides KVK and BGR mentioned above,  the other biggies that follow this pattern are – GMR, GVK, KSK and JSW.

It is true that there are many power companies which do no fall into this pattern like Reliance Power, Tata Power, Torrent Power, Adani Power, CESC etc. Also, there are many three- lettered names belonging to companies which have nothing to do with the power sector viz. SKS, ITC, GSK, HCL, DCM, HMT etc.

There are fads in naming companies much like names of kids or Hindi cinema titles. My daughter has two classmates named Ankita and three named Aditya. In Hindi cinema, long English titles are currently in vogue. I Hate Luv Storys, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, We are Family etc. 

In the case of power companies,  the trend might have started with the success of the first Independent Power Producers (IPPs) from the south GMR and GVK. Since these were successes others followed. I think this naming trend comes out of  part fashion, part superstition and plain creative lethargy.

To make naming simpler for the new power companies , I can’t help offering my two-bits.

Choose  three letters from your name. Easiest is to choose the initials of your name. (GMR, GVK, BGR, KVK are all initials of the promoter like Grandhi Mallikarjun Rao, GV Krishna Reddy, BG Raghupathy etc).

 If  it is not your money alone, you have partners then you could choose the initials of the partners ( KSK gets its name from the partners).

If you are a doting parent you could choose first letters of your kids’  names.

If you are a God-fearing businessman who attributes all your wealth to Gods, choose three of your favourite Gods’ initials.

Please take care that the initials so chosen do not clash with an existing company. Also avoid some popular  three letter initials. SRK is best avoided. In every language and every city, fans of SRK, both in and out of media , have made it sure that SRK stands for Shah Rukh Khan. Others to be avoided are NTR, YSR, MGR etc. These represent larger-than- life heroes/ leaders, who have a fan following even to this day. If you want to avoid some stone throwing on your steel and glass building, just before an IPO, these letters are best avoided.

If all these does not help here are some 3 letter initials which are up for grabs. IWM, GPR, IDK, MMM, LLL.

If you are wondering what these letters stand for, here are their expanded forms:

IWM – I Want  ( your) Money – shows focus of the company,

GPR – Great Power Rip-off – tell it the way it is, not using prefixes like Reliance and do a GPR.

IDK – I Don’t Know ( anything about the power business)

MMM – Minister, Money and Mafia


LLL – Land, Licence and Luck  ( your core competencies to be in the power business ).

Until a three-lettered power company has a failed IPO or worse goes bankrupt, this trend may continue.

– G. Mohan


Narcissism Unlimited: Promoters as Brand Ambassadors

11 09 2010

What connects the following? Kingfisher Airlines, MDH Masala, Khaitan Fans, Country Club, Dr Sarkar’s, RRB Energy, Mantri Developers.  Their businesses are all very diverse. What could possibly be common between a spice marketer and a real estate company or between an airline and a fan manufacturer? Yet they share something. These companies have their CEOs or owners appearing in their advertisements and company communications rather prominently.

If you board a Kingfisher flight, you will be invited by Vijay Mallya, the promoter, to be a guest and a promise to be treated like a guest in his own house. The inflight magazine Hi Blitz is full of pictures of Mallya attending various parties with celebrities from cinema, politics, sports etc. After one flight, you will know who the owner of the airline is.

TV commercials of masalas are not expected to be either entertaining or informative. Yet, I am always amused at MDH TVCs. One cannot miss the old man, the owner of MDH, in the ads. He can be seen  blessing the guests in a wedding, sitting in a reclining chair having a cup of coffee or even atop an elephant like a maharajah with the voiceover announcing ‘Masalon ke Shahenshah’.

Country Club, a mid-size vacations company, from Hyderabad is a big advertiser. Perhaps, not so much for their products, but as a vehicle for its owner Rajeev Reddy. If you cannot recognize Rajeev Reddy watch a Country Club ad on TV, press or even a hoarding. If you spot a rotund, neck-less wonder (not unlike a typical Telugu matinee idol) sporting an oversized goggles and a printed Hawaiian shirt in a thumbs-up   posture, you’re looking at Rajeev Reddy.

Years ago, Khaitan fans had a slogan “Khaitan- bas naam his kaafi hai”. Even if one thought that this was an attempt at trying to emulate a Ford or Honda or closer home a Tata or Godrej, by putting family name as a brand, the ego trip was when the Chairman gave a personal guarantee for each fan sold by   the company. Each and every warranty certificate was signed by the Chairman personally.

Recently, a real-estate developer Mantri Developers has gone a step further. The Chairman Sushil Mantri has made his signature as the logo for his company. A press release says:

The Mantri Developers’ new logo is inspired by the signature of Mr. Sushil Mantri Founder and & Managing Director, Mantri Developers. Elegantly crafted with fluid lines, the new logo is a seal of the trust that the customers and partners have reposed in the brand. The strong color of the logo connotes the spirit of enterprise, excellence and energy. In the most compelling way possible, the logo guarantees that Mantri will always stand by and honor their commitment and promises.

When a CEO or an owner appears so prominently in the promotions and communications one cannot but feel amused. Their desire for self-promotion is so high, sometimes even at the cost of the businesses and brands they promote. It does not help that these CEOs  must be surrounded by sycophants posing as advisors and consultants, who would be encouraging these megalomaniacs to appear in the ads and having a good laugh on the side.

– G. Mohan

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