Virgin Group Brand Case Study

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Shelley Mantei

Virgin: Branding Culture

Subject: Virgin Group Ltd.

Sir Richard Branson started with a student magazine and a mail order record company in 1971. His Virgin empire is now comprised of over 200 companies [Fig.3] and spans three continents. Not only is Virgin one of Britain 's most respected brands, but it is also becoming an international superbrand. They are involved in planes, trains, finance, soft drinks, music, mobile phones, holidays, cars, wines, publishing, bridal wear, and more. What unites all these businesses is the values of their brand and the attitude of their 30,000 employees. Total 2003 global revenues exceeded CAD$7.4 billion.

Virgin has positioned themselves as the
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Vague neologisms leave individual minding to define what the new word means and creates the opportunity for language to create a new reality.

What is known of a "virgin" is through carefully selected words and images that narrate what ought to be thought and understood. If language changes the reality of what "virgin" becomes (Lakoff, 2001, p.20), what does the company Virgin then stand for?

• Traditional: Untouched, pure, raw, innocent, inexperienced, naïve. • New Brand: Exciting, alive, fun, confident, unconventional, bold, provocative. • Mediating: Virgin employs tactics to counter potentially negative pre-conceptions of the word "virgin" e.g. Virgin Atlantic 's slogan "more experience that our name suggests."

The Ultimate Sign

Virgin has been described as the brand that is so many different things for so many people. In fact, Virgin is often cited as an example to silence those claiming that no brand can be everything to everyone. They are able to do this because they have successfully leveraged "polysemy – the potential of signs to carry multiple meanings" (Lewis, 2002, p.260). Audiences variously draw on the raw materials and the deliverables of the Virgin culture to make sense of these signs.

Virgin 's most recognizable sign is not their logo – it is CEO and Chairman, Sir Richard Branson. Branson has become an integral part of the brand itself and is regularly
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