There are two questions any brand must pose when considering an extension.
The fact of the matter is that the busier we are, the faster we need to be able to process information. Pictures are simply easier to scan. Like it or not, people don’t have a lot of time, or patience, for words.
When Longreads, the acclaimed source for exceptional long form journalism and short fiction, launched its spinoff service Travelreads in late March, it went from being a Twitter feed and blog favored by the literati to an appealing springboard for brands wanting to reach engaged consumers through content. Sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, Travelreads curates compelling in-depth stories about far-flung places--perfect plane fare.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh plans to peddle more– much more–than shoes, electronics and cookware. Hsieh says the name Zappos, which delivers customer service as it sells other company’s offerings, could someday be as well-known as Richard Branson’s customer-centric Virgin empire. “That’s probably the brand that’s most analogous to what we're trying to do,” Hsieh says, adding that he can envision the Zappos name on an airline someday.
Business strategists who analyze Sir Richard Branson's methodology for opening new businesses might think it consists of "Throw it against the wall and see what sticks." They might be right. Branson, the iconoclastic founder of Virgin, a name that represents almost anything you can imagine these days, continues to confound business media, impress investors, and delight consumers with one unusually innovative, breakthrough idea after another. In addition to launching a new media brand, the aptly-named Maverick, exclusively for the iPad, Branson and Co. have been busy on the branding front across a staggering 360-plus companies. Virgin, as ever, is spreading its wings with some novel brand exercises.
I learned the power of archetypes from Joseph Campbell's classic interview with Bill Moyers. The explore the universal themes, characters, and stories that repeat throughout history, appearing in every form of human expression from the Bible to Star Wars. These archetypes repeat because they resonate deeply with human consciousness. I first saw Joseph Campbell's work applied to brands at General Mills, when the Wheaties team worked hard to understand and unlock "The Hero" archetype.
In an example of a random reward that reflects well on the brand, Virgin America today (Tuesday) announced it will offer free Wi-Fi over the holidays from Google. The deal, which was piloted for one-day on June 24 , runs from Nov. 10 through Jan. 15. Virgin rep Abby Lunardini said the airline, which began offering Wi-Fi on all its planes in May, typically charges between $5.95 and $12.95 for the service, depending on the length of the flight. Lunardini said that offering Wi-Fi is in line with the brand's positioning, which promises the best in-flight entertainment and technology. In this case, fliers will be notified that Google is providing the service free and when those consumers log on, they will see an on-screen mention of Google as well.
Branding Is Dead! Long Live Brands?! Many pundits have declared the death of branding and it would be difficult to argue to continue typical branding activities. Creating an image to serve as the “face” of a company, refreshing a logo or tagline in an attempt to reinvigorate the business, developing advertising campaigns to “get our name out there” – the business value of these efforts can indeed be questioned. Today’s savvy consumers are likely to see through a brand façade. They can easily find out if the business practices, products, and people behind a brand are what their ads say they are. And they’re more likely to trust their own experience or the recommendation of a friend or even an online reviewer than a company’s own chest-thumping. In fact, one could argue that the historical role which brands played – that is, serving as symbols to guarantee a certain of level of quality – is no longer relevant or useful today. But that is not to say that brands themselves are no longer valuable.
Failure to recognise the value of building a brand internally will cost a company its competitive advantage. Failure to implement internal branding should cost the CEO his or her job. Sustainable competitive advantage can only be achieved by the consistent meeting of customer expectations. In simple terms, this means that the brand has to keep its promise. While the more glamorous application of external brand-building — through campaigns in a variety of visible media and communication channels — is necessary for connecting with customers and other stakeholders, it should follow the brand platform established internally, and not lead it.
As the global economy emerges from recession, regardless of when or how quickly, the focus in the executive suite is already shifting from cost cutting to recovering top-line growth. What role can the CMO play? If CMOs are truly to be growth champions for their corporations, they can't simply rely on traditional marketing and brand-building techniques. In nearly a decade of research, my colleagues and I have found that established companies increasingly are successfully building new businesses on a repeated basis, a process we call corporate entrepreneurship. Marketing -- true marketing, not just selling the story but helping create it -- must play a central role. True marketing is about understanding current and potential customers better than anyone else, translating those insights into powerful new offerings and experiences, and creating ever more effective and efficient paths to market. In other words, marketers must design new businesses, rather than just launch new products.
Virgin Atlantic recently unveiled an in-flight entertainment service that lets travelers browse a video collection of entrepreneurial business ideas. The dedicated channel, dubbed PitchTV, hopes to attract the airline’s business passengers and allows a simple way for those interested to contact the entrepreneurs directly. It’s an innovative way to connect new ideas with the necessary venture capital to make it possible.
If the results of an online poll are any indication, NASA may soon be naming a new wing of the International Space Station, Node 3, after late-night comedian Stephen Colbert.
For audiences, brands are simply personal collections of events that make up a total overall experience. It’s a real-time running tally of the things people feel, whether good, bad or indifferent, at every point of contact with a brand, every exposed surface. But most of the time and money spent on marketing is focused on just a handful of media and at specific moments in time.
The ground floor of the Times Square Virgin Megastore has an air of chaotic neglect. Generic "Everything Must Go!" and "Nothing Held Back!" signs hang over shelves crammed with recent DVDs, "Guitar Hero" dolls and PS2 games.
Here we reproduce a complaint letter sent to Sir Richard Branson, which is currently being emailed globally and is considered by many to be the world's funniest passenger complaint letter.