Monday, August 11, 2014

Is 'Vistara' a good name?

India's newest airline was unveiled today. Christened 'Vistara', the airways from TSIA (Tata Singapore International Airlines) will officially take off sometime in October 2014.

Derived from the Sanskrit word 'Vistaar' which means 'to expand, to widen or to multiply', Vistara is the sixth Tata brand to start with the letter 'V'. Vivanta, Voltas, Vitax, Indica Vista, and Tata Venture being the other five.

Named by Bangalore based Ray & Keshavan, Vistara is said to be 'the perfect cue for an airline that will push back the boundaries of air travel and create seamless experiences. It also conjures up the image most associated with a smooth flight– an endless, blue horizon' according to the official spiel.

Let's analyse and see the level of perfection of the name. The best way to go about it is to pose a few simple questions:

Hell no. It's a fairly common name. is the internet home of Illinois based Vistara Construction Services, which apparently does some aviation projects among other things. Founded by Ramesh Nair, the company's been around since 1994. has been blocked by Vistara Voyages, a Bangalore based travel company that's been in operation since 2010. Luckily for the Tata Group, Vistara didn't file for trademark. Else, they would have been in deep trouble. Then there is the cloud computing start up Vistara is also a primary school in New South Wales, in Australia. If that was not enough, Vistara Therapy is a speech therapy organisation working out of Chennai. Tata SIA and Ray & Keshavan were obviously aware of these issues. Which is why they booked the URLs - and knowing fully well that anything else is out of question. Incidentally a Hyderabad company beat the Tatas in booking Now they've put it on sale. My advice: Better to buy it out to avoid any future embarrassment.

Actually the name has many layers of meanings. Apart from the obvious positive cues, the dominant part of Vistara is 'Vista' which is synonymous with a pleasant view. The 'Tara' bit in Vistara is the Sanskrit word for 'star' which implies stellar performance. @AirVistara is the twitter handle...if you shrink it, it reads as A.Vis or Avis (the latin word for 'bird')! Another clever move is, vISTAra embeds the letters TSIA (the name of the company). All these add to the endearment.

Vistara is essentially an Asian airline. With a deep focus on India. From that angle, choosing an Asian name made eminent sense. Singapore owes its origins to Sanskrit. That could have played a role in the choice of a Sanskrit name. Compared to SpiceJet, Jet Airways, IndiGo, Air India and Go Air, Vistara really stands out as it feels more Indian. The 'expansive' meaning of the name kind of captures the ambition of the airline. Net net, Vistara feels much better than 'Air Tata' as Tata has an ominous 'goodbye' feel. Given the atmosphere of crashes and missing aircrafts, Vistara feels sufficiently uncontroversial.

Not, really. But the politically inclined in India will point out that MISSION VISTAR is the codename for the overhauling plan of the Aam Aadmi Party. Those NaMo bhakts who hate AAP might get reminded of their favourite hatefigure when they fly Vistara. On a lighter vein, as a few Tamilians are pointing out, the Vistara seems a poor cousin of actress Nayantara (a starlet in Kollywood).

Yes, it will. Although not easy on the tongue, the 3-syllable name will hopefully find traction over a period of time. Another upside is that the feminine nature of the name, might strike a chord with women passengers more than the masculine sounding 'Jet', 'Kingfisher' or 'SpiceJet'.

Taking a helicopter view, Vistara has more positives than negatives. So I'd give it a 3 on 5.