When we think or hear the word ‘virgin’, one presupposes inexperience or maybe, a newcomer. Indeed, the general connotation is that whatever the subject in question is doing or undertaking, he is doing it for the first time. Such words like rookie, freshman and debutant could all be viewed in the same vein.
So what was Richard Branson thinking when he decided to call his then venture ‘Virgin Records’? His answer is simple, “We considered ourselves virgins in business”. We on this side of the cultural divide are often taught that a name isn’t just a name, but encompasses history, identification, philosophies, ideologies, culture, envisioned future, behavior, passion and purpose. All these come to the fray when choosing and adopting a name.
Hence, the question arises, “what then happens to the potency of the name when they become stalwarts in business? I mean, if they were virgins when they lived in a one room shack and couldn’t afford an office, would they still be considered that haven become a global brand?”
The answer is simple and straightforward, in order to stay a ‘virgin’ forever, you need to be new at everything you are doing, every time you are doing it!
Hmm…. That doesn’t sound self explanatory at all, does it?
Well, simply put, you have to always take on a challenge bigger and tougher than the last.
Once you have ‘slain Goliath with the sling’ it becomes a cliché to say “I will make do with my shepherd boy tools in this fight” and less newsworthy when you take on ‘Goliaths’ every night at the ‘Apollo’. People now know it’s possible, so it’s ‘on to the next one’
Hence, the story of the ‘Virgin brand’ has been to take on an industry or sector, and become a heavyweight in it, and move to the next one to do the same. This is how a small record store metamorphosed into one of the greatest brands in history with over 200 companies, each a major player in its industry.
This paradigm has been subliminally sold to its customers. From Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays to Virgin Galactic, it is now clear that the sky is no longer the limit, but the take-off point for all things Virgin.
They make the Customer crave newness, and imbibe the spirit of adventure, making them want to always try new things. And with their companies always pioneering new things, these present and potential customers don’t have to go too far to find that new thing to start or step up to!
So does the virgin brand stand for random, reckless and relentless risk taking? The company refuses it to be viewed as such. Rather, they wish to be seen as an eclectic brand and assure us that every move they make is measured and calculated.
Virgin is always starting new ventures, but not before conducting extensive research and industry analysis. They put themselves in the customer’s shoes to see what could make it better and ask the 7 fundamental questions:
1. Is this an opportunity for restructuring a market and creating competitive advantage?
2. What are the competitors doing?
3. Is the customer confused or badly served?
4. Is this an opportunity for building the Virgin brand?
5. Can we add value?
6. Will it interact with our other businesses?
7. Is there an appropriate trade-off between risk and reward?
With this, they always provide maximum utility and ensure not only a customer’s repeat purchase for anything virgin, but an upgrade to the next virgin big thing!
So, whether these steps or the business process in general are carried out in an unconventional manner, the truth is; the results there for all to see, and as I said earlier… the sky is no longer the limit;
… FOR NOW, IT IS THE GALAXY!