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Monday, April 20, 2015

This Guy and his Mad Brand

Travel pages and blogs usually have certain words in their names. Either they will be Nomadic in their names, or they will be Wandering. They often have Itchy Feet or Dirty Shoes. They will be Gypsies, Adventure Junkies and Travellers.

So when I was lying on my back and staring at the ceiling for hours, thinking of a name (well most of the time I was just dozing away to glory), I knew that none of these clichéd words would be part of my page’s name. Heh, I can’t imagine taking myself so seriously.

And that is why, when I thought of the name “This Guy’s On His Own Trip”, I chuckled. Also because my cousin’s dog had just licked my ear but let’s just assume that I chuckled because it was a sparkling discovery. The name, not the dog discovering my ear.

One of the first banners that was designed for the page was by using a picture where I was looking down a cliff road in Bhutan. Antara, best friend and designer for everything done for my brand, came up with a stellar “jigsaw puzzle” concept. I like to think of it as This Guy’s looking on from a mountain at the future. He has quit his job, he is travelling, he has no idea what the future holds (that’s why the jigsaw isn’t complete). Everything is out there though and it is possible to piece together what you want from life.

Today, the name makes even more sense than that day. Back then it was just a page, and I had not thought of organizing trips. But six months after that naming ceremony, I actually started leading my own trips and showing people the world my style.

A man must have a business card, eh! For some unknown, strange reason Antara refused to put any of “World Saver”, “Magician”, “Adventurer by day, Zorro by night” as my job title. It would have been so cool to flip out a card and pass it over the table to the General Manager of Pepsi or some similar corporate and watch his face as he read “World Saver” on my card. But Antara denied the world such joys. Go throw paint on her!

We finally agreed on “Adventurer”.  The logo is of a guy with a backpack. Recently in Paro, a tripper Anbu, who’s claim to fame is (no, coming on my trip isn’t the thing he lists as his greatest accomplishment in life, sadly) telling businesses how to brand themselves, suggested that I could have a Bandana for my logo.

In 2035, when it will become mandatory for every human being to wear a bandana to school, college and office, you will know who started this beautiful fashion trend. This Guy.

It surprises me to see the clichéd, conditioned manner in which people work or do things. In the travel industry, all itineraries look just the same, all the banners look just the same. A package to Thailand will in all probability have an image of a long tail boat in Phuket; a package to Vietnam will have a person in the traditional Vietnamese hat rowing a boat in the Mekong Delta, a France package will have the Eiffel Tower standing tall.

Aww le travel companies, at least try and think a little?

It is not just in the banners. The text describing the itinerary is as entertaining as watching a full length golf game on television. They are all taking people, in their text, from one sightseeing point to another.

But we can’t just take people from one place to another, eh! How boring is that! The romance lies in the journey, my friend. And so, in the itineraries and in the real world, Captain Nero will herd his troops, err trippers and they shall all sit in a private mini bus that vrooms along mountain roads. When we see a waterfall, hark we will but of course jump down and play in it. Because cockiness is the new sexy, we won’t shy from writing in our itineraries that the guide will pull you into the water. Because cockiness will continue to be sexy, in the itinerary we will also put up photographs of  people being picked up bodily.

When I was going to do my first group trip, Antara and I were discussing T shirts for the brand. Just having a logo and the brand name wouldn't cut it. Oh dear, I just realized going minimalist is not my thing.

 I wanted to have this guy think he is all cool because he is going to different corners in the world. But he is to fall into predicaments that completely take away his coolness.  For instance, one idea was to show a series of tall Himalayan peaks and this guy standing at the top of one. He looks bemused though, because although he was supposed to be climbing Everest, the poor blighter has gone up another mountain by mistake. A small board on another peak yonder screams “Mount Everest”. Another idea was to show this guy in a scuba gear in the depths of the ocean but with a slight "uh oh" expression on his face, as a shark looks at him with a raised eyebrow.

We finally printed a t shirt, dedicating it to the Pamplona Bull Run, where all my adventures had officially started in June 2013. On the tee, we put this massive ferocious bull chasing down this terrified guy running for his life. Think we should have added some biceps to him though. And maybe a dimple. And made him look a little less idiotic.

I guess I want to work the way I want to lead life. Tell stories, do things differently, inspire people to see the world, care for the environment, be seen as an object of affection, trust, be irreverent, joke and laugh. Make fun of people and myself. Not take life or myself too seriously.

This Guy’s On His Own Trip, after all.

As said C.Joybell.C, “I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”

If only all of us were judged by the amount we could make others laugh or smile.

Leaving with you a few banners of the latest trips.


Now Read:

1) Confessions of a Travel Guide
2) How I Met a Bear and Got Chased By It In Croatia
3) Nero Goes Deep Sea Soloing