One of my favorite examples of a “branded house” is Virgin, properly known as the Virgin Group. You might know the name of its CEO, Sir Richard Branson. Not only did he create a global stable of companies with the Virgin name, logo, and essence slapped on all of them (thus qualifying for the “branded house” designation), but he also had a cameo role in XTC’s “Generals and Majors” 80’s music video classic.
The antithesis is the “house of brands,” and is best illustrated by a company known as Fortune Brands, a conglomeration of distinct brands, none of them sharing any branding, product, or marketing synergies at all. Fortune’s fortune is so bad it is now a take-over target – renowned hedge fund manager William Ackman has taken a large stake in the company’s shares. He, and other Wall Streeters, believe Fortune Brands’ mix of Titleist, Jim Beam, and Moen would be more valuable businesses, and brands, apart rather than “together.”
No such problems at Virgin. Virgin Mobile, Virgin Media, Virgin Trains, Virgin Wines, Virgin This, Virgin That. Yet all this time, no hotels. Now the wait is over.
About a month ago, the company announced it will go into the hotel business. Its hotel brand will be called – wait for it – surprise! – Virgin Hotels. The research the company did around the concept shows just how strong its brand is. It claims that many of the consumers it surveyed on the hotel concept thought Virgin was already in the hotel business!
Still and all, an executive at Virgin explained why the company waited so long to venture into the hotel industry:
- The Virgin brand had to reach critical mass in major cities
- There had to be unique real estate opportunities
- "We were not getting in the business unless we do something different”
For all the brands that are plunging into new business, extending their brands without much thought, post the three points above on your wall.
And for those waiting and wondering how to move a brand forward, you should post the three points on your wall as well.
With the right brand strategy, virgin territory can be yours.