Businessmen and creators of brand names are usually careful about the names they give their products and companies. How would the brand sound? Will customers love the name? They prefer a name that can stand the test of time.
In 2010, a man named Jagmendar Gupta faced a similar challenge when he decided to launch a real estate business. Gupta, who had entered the business in 1992 with partners, was trying to build a company independently. He had to find a name for his company, one that he hoped would have a lifelong bond with his potential customers.
Property builders typically draw brand names from their surnames. Think Godrej Properties, Hiranandani Group, Lodha Group and Gaur. Some collate the initials of the surnames of the partners in to the brand. Example: ATS (Getamber Anand, Ashwani Talwar and Anil Kumar Saha.) There are of course exceptions like Unitech and DLF.
Gupta decided to draw a name from Latin. He settled for Corona Buildcon.
At that time, Gupta believed that name would sit well with the sense of achievement a buyer feels once he gets possession of his house. He also thought the meaning of the name corona — a set of circles of light seen around a luminous body like the sun — was a smart brand name to adopt.
“The intense temperature of the Sun's corona is due to the presence of highly ionized ions which give it its spectral feature and this is our company’s logo,” said Gupta’s son Ajay.
The Guptas couldn’t have known a decade later, a deadly global pandemic would be similarly named as his company because under a microscope, the virus resembled the bright crown-like ring of gasses around the sun.
It’s the name, silly!
Now, they are having trouble with the brand.
“When we recently went in for an approval from a bank, there were awkward remarks passed about the name of our company,” Ajay Gupta told Moneycontrol.
The Guptas would have brushed off the incident if they hadn’t heard about a similar episode concerning a homebuyer.
Rahul Kumar, a resident of an apartment Corona Optus in Gurgaon — built by Corona Buildcon — recently went to pay his property tax. Officials passed snide remarks about his address.
Kumar isn’t overtly worried about the name because he said he is better off than lakhs of buyers who are yet to receive possession of their residential units. “The name does not matter to me.”
But the Guptas are not convinced. They believe the brand is already hurting their prospects.
Look at what happened to their project in Haryana. Corona Buildcon recently launched a 226-unit project named Corona Greens in Sohna under the state’s affordable housing scheme.
“We Initially received mixed reviews from our marketing associates due to the name of the project. They communicated to us that buyers may not want to purchase a house with the name Corona due to its connotation with the disease,” said Ajay Gupta.
Gupta said the response has been good, but the company is contemplating dropping Corona from the project’s name.
Gupta said the company would retain the names of the projects that have already been delivered but may drop ‘Corona’ from new projects because of the potential branding challenges.
The company may yet decide to use the corporate logo of the crown and carry a note at the bottom that the project is being developed by Corona Group. “We are considering options,” said Ajay Gupta.
Is it a big deal?
An address containing the word Corona is unlikely to face branding issues, according to Harish Bijoor, a marketer and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
“Corona is a beer. Corona is a real estate project. I believe it’s fine to hold on to the name. It’s got its own value in terms of quick recall,” he said.
The property will not suffer any valuation issues more negative than other real estate projects, according to Bijoor.
Corona Buildcon has around 20 acres of residential development under its stable. Roughly 2 mn sq ft has been completed and handed over. Commercial development is spread across 1.5 lakh sq ft, besides hotels and educational institutions.
The senior Gupta started a sanitaryware showroom in 1974 and diversified into manufacturing of cast iron pipes and fittings and entered real estate in 1992 with partners. One of the first projects that his father launched in Gurgaon is the famous Essel Towers on MG Road that was launched in 1995.