Experts divided on ‘Vistara’ brand appeal

While some feel 'Vistara', derived from the Sanskrit word vistar, meaning limitless expanse, is well thought-out, others say the name does not have a pick-up value

New Delhi: Advertising and branding experts stand divided on Vistara, the brand name of the planned airline of Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, a joint venture between Tata Sons Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd. Some feel that Vistara, derived from the Sanskrit word vistar, meaning limitless expanse, is well thought-out and credit the Bangalore-based brand consulting company Ray+Keshavan for it.

“The name does not have a pick-up value. It’s not short and snappy. The addition of the letter at the end of vistar leaves a melancholy trail which could have been avoided," said Sanjay Sarma, co-founder and CEO of Design Worldwide, a strategic branding and creative solutions company.

Besides, the focus seems to be on the meaning of the word rather than on the brand name, he felt. “Although its meaning is beautiful, in a brand name, the meaning is the second layer. First is usability and functionality," he said.

Most airlines prefer universally understood brand names like IndiGo and GoAir, said Dheeraj Sinha, chief strategy officer (South and South East Asia), at advertising agency Grey India. “This is the first one in a local language. It does give it a very Indian feel, but it’s not an advantage to have a name of Indian origin in this category (aviation)," he said. In contrast, Kiran Khalap, founder of Chlorophyll, a brand consulting firm, is relieved that the new airline does not sport a generic name—“like xyz jet or Jet abc or TASIA (gulp!)," he said in an email. The ideal situation is when a brand name reflects the differentiator. “Working backwards from the brand name, one can think of an airline that wishes to be global (limitless in scale, style, options) in its ambitions," said Khalap.

Advertising expert Swapan Seth agreed: “They want to be expansive in service, route, flights... everything." Seth is national creative director, chairman and chief executive officer of Equus Red Cell.

In his view, the new brand is a masterful move. “An airline brand name needn’t be hip. In any case that space has been taken by IndiGo. It’s a smart move to keep it traditional and Indian. Being Indian is very global today," he added.

There was, though, surprising consensus around the airline’s logo, derived from a symbol which signifies seamless balance of the universe.

“India is known for its hospitality and luxury. Maharaja was the logo for Air India, which it dissipated. The Vistara logo is very traditional and Indian," said Seth, adding the airline, it appears, will operate in
the quasi-luxury segment with more business class seats than are usually available.

Design Worldwide’s Sarma also found the logo visually striking and distinct.

“It has a certain element of luxury in it, thanks to the use of purple and gold," he said.

In the new venture, Tata Sons, the holding company of the $109 billion Tata group, has a 51% stake and Singapore Airlines the remainder.

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