Cleartrip has been my go-to option for travel bookings – be it airline, train or hotels. I quite like the experience across platforms – be it on the web or mobile devices. In my view, its design (and in a Steve Jobs-esque way not referring to just its looks) is the primary differentiator as there are tonnes of options in this genre. Despite several temptations from other brands – be it via ads, offers etc., I have never been motivated to look beyond Cleartrip for my needs. They have now launched Cleartrip Local – ‘a comprehensive set of experiences to go out and enjoy when you’re in your city or away travelling’. In other words, they have pivoted to offer a wider range of services like activities, dining experiences, events and even ‘new ways to get fit’, competing with the likes of What’s Hot. While there must be perfectly sound business reasons for such a move, I found the move a big jarring. The reason: the brand name, Cleartrip – specifically the ‘trip’ part.
In my view, the name Cleartrip conveyed the activity in simple, unambiguous terms. The no-nonsense, minimal, simple approach to design complemented the name. Users completed all their needs for a trip and that was that. Now with activities like brunch or gymming it is no longer about a ‘trip’. It may seem trivial but I believe some brand are explanatory (e.g CarTrade) and evocative even (e.g Orchard Fresh). Now if the former were to sell bicycles or if the latter were to sell frozen food, it would seem jarring and out of place.
In ‘Four simple steps to a great brand name’, Michael Dale outlines four types of names: Literal, Synthesised, Arbitrary or Metaphorical. Some examples:
Literal: Ace Hardware, Goodreads, BBC
Synthesised: LandRover, Kleenex
Arbitrary: Google, Apple, Shell
Metaphorical: Virgin, Innocent
Even synthesised names (e.g Dropbox) can convey a meaning. Cleartrip is more of a literal name and its move to offerings beyond a trip is a bit jarring for a loyal user. Will this subjective view be a huge impediment to try out the local events in the Cleartrip app? Obviously not. If the actual offerings are attractive enough such minor deviations shouldn’t matter. But the pivot has not strictly done justice to the original brand name. What say?