“I believe there is almost no limit to what a brand can do. You can ignore those who go on about brand stretching.”
– Richard Branson, Chairman & CEO, Virgin Group, in October 1998.
Virgin is known all over the branding industry as the “most stretched brand” ever and is often used to silence those who claim that no brand can be everything to everyone. That is why virtually every brand expert recognises the Outlaw as its brand archetype.
The brand is considered over-stretched because the group has managed to dabble into multiple sectors and industries, focusing on providing better customer experience instead of any single product or service.
The brand first began, in 1970, as a retail company selling music records. They took the name Virgin after Tessa Watts, a member of Branson’s team remarked that they were all complete virgins when it came to business. In 1984, the airline, Virgin Atlantic, was added to the group.
From then on, they went to Virgin Trains, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Galactic, and more than a hundred other subsidiaries.
The group likes to think of itself as a company created for the people. Therefore, they are ready to break new grounds or come up with new ideas, to serve the people better. A move that can be traced back to the brand’s enigmatic leader, Richard Branson.
So, what are the important highlights we can pick from Virgin Group?
I highlighted six of these in my e-book on brand modelling…
- A consistent image/identity is everything.
While the group dabbled into a lot of (unrelated) industries, they managed to maintain a consistent image and identity across all of them. Brand identity is more than just building a strong online presence; your customers have to recognise that distinct look and feel of your products always. That’s where you have to be consistent with your logo, signature colours, straplines, mascot, and even brand voice.
- Your brand value is your ultimate cutting edge.
The group broke a lot of branding rules, going into multiple industries, and also utilising unconventional marketing approaches. But kept their brand customer-centric and turned that into their number one brand value. That covered up for their “crimes” in the branding industry, and that was the major contributing factor to their business growth and success.
While I may not advise to utilise their methods or build your brand as an outlaw, it is definitely in your best interest to find your cutting edge and make the most out of it. A good place to start is to define your brand value(s) and be consistent with it.
Over to you…what other lessons do you think we can pick from Virgin Group and their brand model? For brand experts in the house, do you think the Outlaw, as an archetype, is working out well for them?