Dissecting a Brand: Virgin


How has Sir Richard Branson turned a record store into a worldwide brand encompassing everything from cellular telephones to spacecraft? At least one of the answers to this question is branding. Virgin is one of the best branded corporations in the UK, with millions of people recognizing the UK music logo design and buying in to the company culture.

Despite the company name’s obvious connotation, it resulted from the original owners having no business experience whatsoever. To the business world, they were virgins. This was an interesting name that was different from any of the competition. Further, this name was edgy enough to appeal to the rather tough crowd buying their music, while offering a variety of images for the company UK media logo design. From the beginning, branding was a key consideration to Virgin.

The record shop turned into a record label, and within a decade’s time Branson was the head of a recording empire that included big names in music such as the Sex Pistols and Genesis. During the nineties, Branson made plans to branch out in new and unexpected ways. Virgin Records was sold, and Virgin Atlantic Airways was born. While many people questioned the brand’s ability to maintain relevance outside its original field, the airline company flourished under Branson’s unconventional leadership. From there, the company has branched into almost every market, even financial services.

While the original Virgin records started out using an image of a virginal maiden as a logo, the now well known scrawl became the logo during the late seventies. This image has several advantages. First, it is recognizable enough to be picked out from a crowd. Second, it legibly and prominently displays the company name, which is one of the most notable parts of the company. It can be printed in a variety of colours and sizes without losing meaning. Last, it is not industry specific, which has allowed Virgin to expand without rebranding.

Another key part of the brand is Sir Richard Branson himself. This man has been an innovative leader while maintaining the pragmatic and giving nature of his hippie roots. Virgin’s many philanthropic pursuits are well known, as is their constant move toward a more sustainable business. Although this sensible and responsible attitude is a sizeable part of the Virgin brand, an even larger aspect is the spirit of innovation. Virgin is always looking toward the future, most notably with their current space shuttle project. This innovation is a key value and is shown in all aspects of the company, from the style of management to product innovation. People hold Virgin to high standards, and the company continues to deliver year after year.

Can a brand last forever? It has yet to happen. Most brands die along with their target audience, although there are notable exceptions. However, in the case of Virgin, it is fair to say that the brand will be successful as long as Sir Richard Branson is at the helm. This charismatic leader is no business virgin anymore, but he is certainly the embodiment of the Virgin brand itself.