Musafir.com was founded in August 2007 and branded over a three month period from December 2007 to February 2008. Although some brands begin by identifying their structure and then hunt for a name that fits the profile, we jumped right into word formation exercises.
I began by running through a list of every possible combination involving the words travel and trip under the sun; however, with most meaningful English dot-coms snapped up, our choices were whittled down to absurd names or obscure TLDs.
It was then that I came across the word musafir (pronounced /mʊ saː fIr/). Unlike the others, this dot-com was available, even if so for a ransom. The word meant traveler in Arabic, Hindi and Urdu, and was practically a part of popular culture in the subcontinent, thanks to a song from the seventies.
We traded our bag of silver for the domain in September 2007 and I worked on the brand through to the end of February 2008. If there was one challenge worth noting, it was our wordmark, which had to be redrawn because of Meta’s awkward ‘ﬁ’ ligature and the unusual balance of characters in Musafir. Our golden wings too only came about after 128 iterations involving everything from sunshine to shooting stars.
Although there have been a few tweaks in shade over the years – the most recent being in September 2010 – nothing has fundamentally changed about the brand since March 2008. It’s served us well as a startup and we’re looking to build on top of it for a new product this summer. In the posts that follow, I’ll share more about how Musafir.com was designed and the hurdles that e-business startups have to overcome in the Middle East.