“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose ; by any other name would smell as sweet”
-Juliet in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’
Tracing the chain of cause and effect of any significant events around us can be a fascinating exercise. Understanding history while seemingly academic helps us to better deal with the present if not the future.
Last time I looked at the Telangana issue in terms of a marriage, divorce and its settlement. This time I would like to approach it from a corporate M&A point of view i.e. whether the alliance between Telangana and Andhra was an acquisition or joint venture or a merger?
What should have been the brand strategy when the State was being formed ?
What should be the brand strategy now and going forward?
Lets refer to the SKC report once again: (Extracts from Page 13 & Page 17)
“All those above points (meaning thereby the points covered in the Gentlemen’s Agreement) were agreed upon in meeting held as above on 20th February, 1956. We have today further discussed about the two following points, on which agreement could not be arrived at:
(1) The name of the new state – the Telangana representatives wanted that the name of Andhra Telangana (as proposed in the draft bill) be retained, while the Andhra representatives wanted that Andhra Pradesh, as amended by the Joint Selection Committee, be retained.”
“Two other points were discussed subsequently and understanding was arrived at. In the draft Bill of the States Reorganization Act, the name of the unified state was captioned as “Andhra-Telangana”. However, keeping in view the point raised by Andhra leaders that, the name would underline the differences between the two regions; the Joint Select Committee which went into the provisions of the draft Bill amended the name as “Andhra Pradesh”.
Recognize these brand names? What is unique about them?
ICICI Lombard / DSP Merrill Lynch / Prudential ICICI / Hero Honda / Maruti Suzuki / Bajaj Allianz / ING Vysya / TATA AIA / PNB Metlife / Tata DOCOMO / JP Morgan Chase / Sony Ericsson / Pricewaterhouse Coopers/ Allen & Owery
All of them are joint ventures between two leading companies with their own brand equity. For the joint venture each of them are bringing their respective strengths to the table either in terms of their understanding and access to the local markets or in terms of technology or international presence.
These relationships are so structured to preserve both partners identities in the new venture yet the same time create a joint brand that communicates the combined value proposition and service offering that the ventures brings to the customer.
Creating such compound brands has become common and accepted form of joint ventures across the world especially in the automotive, banking, financial, legal & professional services companies.
Telangana & Andhra: A well intended Joint Venture that became an Acquisition:
Even though this last minute change in the proposed name of the new state from ‘Andhra –Telangana’ to Andhra Pradesh was to prevent highlighting the differences between the two regions, it has probably resulted in Telangana region being taken for granted by the leadership of Andhra region.
Instead of a Joint Venture of two equals, it inadvertently became an acquisition, thereby setting up an unequal relationship, where the leaders of Telangana were constantly on a back foot.
On the other hand, the presence of Telangana in the name of the new state “Andhra-Telangana” would have served as a constant reminder to the political leadership of the obligations enshrined in the Gentleman’s’ Agreement ( can be considered as a Shareholders agreement of the JV) and the subsequent arrangements and we just may have been able to avoid the present split.
A merger of equals resulting in completely new brand identity:
Recognize these names?
Novartis / Verizon
These are mergers of large companies with their own brands, but upon mergers chose to create a completely new brand.
Ciba Geigy merged with Sandoz to create Novartis, likewise Bell with Nynex to create Verizon and so on. Such a strategy of dropping existing brands in favour of creating a completely new brand is usually adopted when it is a merger of equals and when the corporate transformation post the merger is sought to be conveyed with a new vision and direction.
Andhra Pradesh should have been christened as Telugu Nadu
Going back to the formation of Andhra Pradesh, the ideal thing would have been to name the new state as “Telugu Nadu” thereby creating a new identity based on the language that was originally the cause of bringing together the two regions.
Both the regions identity be it Andhra or Telangana were only a few years old as there were erstwhile parts of Madras and Hyderabad states respectively. These identities’ could have been subsumed for the larger cause of Telugu identity.
Such a branding would have over time obliterated the regional differences and strengthened the bond of Telugus. The impact of NTRs ‘ Telugu Atmagauruvam” campaign has been uniformly felt across all regions.
Asking for Samaikya “Andhra” now is a strategic mistake.
This can be a lesson at least now for all those people demanding for “ Samaikya Andhra’. It is time to reflect and change their strategy. It is our linguistic identity that brought us together. They should re orient the narrative and bring back the focus on Telugu identity. Since the name of the state and Andhra region are conflated, the angst against the region is being reflected on the State. This can be overcome by dropping “Andhra” and repositioning their demand for “Samaikya Telugu Nadu”. Who knows, they may still be able to succeed in preventing a split.
(One of out of box way out the current crisis, would be to agree to rename Andhra Pradesh, as “Telangana Pradesh” ! This coupled with another ‘ Gentleman’s Agreement’ outlining that the Chief Ministers for the next ten years will only be from Telangana may just about assuage the wounded feelings !)
Going back to the earlier example of a marriage, I truly wish that the innocent bride insisted on retaining her maiden name (as a few women are insisting these days). The mischievous husband would not have taken her for granted and we would probably have saved this marriage.
Another lesson for the immediate future; Post the separation, let the Andhra Pradesh be renamed as Seema – Andhra Pradesh; As some would say Rayala seema is not an innocent bride, but a bombshell ! (Pun unintended). There are only so many divorces one can handle in this lifetime.
As recent events have demonstrated, I have to but disagree with Shakespeare:
Everything is in a name, and a Telugu by any other name will not smell as sweet!