Analysis: From Repower to Senvion

GERMANY: One of the longest-running stories in wind power came to a close when Suzlon-owned company Repower revealed it was changing its name to Senvion.

Repower has been working on changing its name since at least 2010, when Per Hornung Pedersen was in charge. However, the story dates back to 2001, when the company acquired the license to use the name from Swiss utilty Rätia Energie on the basis of a non-exclusive licence. This worked well enough until May 2010 when Ratia decided it too rather liked the name and asked Repower to stop using it.

Since then an extension agreement between Repower (Swiss utility) and Repower (wind turbine OEM) has been renewed no fewer than three times, with the current deal set to expire in March. Throughout this time, during which Repower has brought in a new CEO (Andreas Nauen), been formally taken over by Suzlon and launched a number of new turbines, it has been developing a Senvion brand identity.

It says something about the naivety of the wind industry back then, that a company should choose a name effectively owned by another company. Brand identity has now become more important to the wind industry.

In the early days, publicity vehicles for new products and services were limited to a small number of respected trade publications and events. Before the financial crisis there was little need for marketing as the wind industry was booming. However, when the crisis hit, manufacturers suddenly found themselves with a glut of turbines and companies realised they needed to use their marketing to stand out from the competition.

Little is known about the exact process behind the choice of the Senvion name. In 2010, shortly before he was replaced by current CEO Andreas Nauen, Pedersen revealed the name would not be Suzlon and would reflect the changes at the company, which has turned "from a small wind turbine manufacturer in northern Germany into a global player with an extraordinary growth story". In 2012 Nauen said it would be created by the end of the year.

Nauen said: "We needed to find a new name. We changed it for something that reflected the brand and what we do well. Sustainable energy, vision, innovation. That's how we came up with [Senvion]".

Asked about whether the name was also chosen because it bore a faint resemblance to the name of the parent company, Nauen reponded. "We could have chosen Suzlon and saved a lot of money, but we wanted to stand out as our own brand."

Despite the time and care taken in creating the new name, Nauen said there is unlikely to be much fanfare from the company in its adoption. Nauen was forthright when he said there would not be a large marketing campaign behind the new name, although there would be some advertising focused on the revealing of the logo and the first turbine to receive it.

This is likely to occur some time around March. When it does, Repower (the OEM) will pass into distant memory along with Bonas, Enron and other companies that have been subsumed into other brands.