Brand it like Branson
When I think about the Virgin group, I do not think about its 400 different businesses around the globe. The first thing that comes to my mind is the bright red logo followed by Branson partying on his island. The real billionaire lifestyle.
But it was this billionaire mindset that made The Virgin Group a success. Let us find out how.
A brief introduction about The Virgin Group and Branson, Branson was dyslexic and thus never a start performer in school.
So Richard Branson along with his friend Nick Powell started a record label. They named it Virgin because they considered themselves as “virgins” in business. But these two virgins were on fire as the record label was extremely successful, signing bands like The Rolling Stones and Sex Pistols.
Then came Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Care, Virgin Hotels etc etc
But we aren’t talking these individual brands today. We are talking about what made Virgin Group hold ground all these years.
The brand image that Virgin has is that of pure luxury. This is evident in its company portfolio which involves luxury cruises under Virgin Voyages, spaceflight companies like Virgin Galactic or the sheer extravagance of the flights and waiting rooms under Virgin Atlantic.
People have an aspirational tendency. If I see the Instagram story of my friends partying in Bali, that place suddenly seems like the best place to go to.
P.S: This is partly the reason why so many college kids flock to Goa every year. (You know the other reason)
Virgin group capitalized on this tendency and publicly portrayed the extravagant virgin lifestyle whether it was via centrally placed Virgin-exclusive waiting rooms or extreme publicity for his efforts. We must keep in mind that no brand is every successful without a brand ambassador. And Virgin Group’s biggest brand ambassador was Branson itself. People aspired to be like Branson, the billionaire who dropped out of school.
Another important thing that impacts how we perceive brands is their logo. And Virgin’s logo although nothing special is extremely eye-catching with its bright red colour. Richard Branson also called the ‘V’ of the logo as an extravagant tick representing the virgin stamp of approval. Now businesses - seeing the huge success of the Virgin Group - too wanted the Virgin stamp of approval. Viola! 400 businesses under the umbrella.
Richard Branson has always led a very public life and is an entrepreneur who has done a lot in a very short period of time. This led to him being in news constantly, which translated into added fame and popularity for the brand. He grew this brand with his hard work, charisma and bold manoeuvres and now charisma is what helps them turn a profit.
Talking of more recent times, when an extremely contagious virus is on the run, the future prospects of a business primarily run on swanky hotels, luxurious cruises and expensive flights cannot be very rosy.
And this is what has happened.
With the Virgin Atlantic getting extremely cash strapped and laying off thousands of employees, Richard Branson has requested for a government loan to keep the airline afloat. Guess what is the collateral? His private island. But the public is mocking him increasingly as he once committed a tax fraud and now wants help from this tax money.
Although Britain has a Covid Corporate Financing Facilities to help organizations tide over such a crisis, Virgin Group lacks an investment-grade credit rating, thus crossing out this option.
Branson is pleading for government aid but there is no way that Boris Johnson will help this airline until its shareholders have dug deeper into their own pockets.