Richard Branson and the power of branding

This morning, I came across an article written by Richard Branson for back in March 2011.  

In this article, Branson attributes success of his businesses to good branding. And this makes me happy.


I am happy about it because almost every day I come across companies which still don’t think that there’s a direct link between adopting and implementing a smart brand strategy for their product, and profitability. Thinking about brand still comes as an afterthought for many senior managers and company founders. Unfortunately, all too often, the importance of brand strategy begins to feature on their radar screens only when the brand in question needs to be fixed or even rescued.


Richard Branson (I keep typing BranDson) begins his article about branding by suggesting that a conventional approach taught at business schools is to stick to what you know, and specialize. And yet, Branson, who himself has never gone to business school, and hasn’t followed any typical “rules of business” either, can’t complain about the lack of business success. Look at Branson’s vast portfolio of companies, all united under the Virgin brand: Virgin Games, Virgin Trains, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Books, etc. What glues them all together is the Virgin brand.


Here are a couple of bullet points that I've put together based on Richard Branson's advice about branding. I hope that these tips will also help you build a successful business:


1) Build your brand around experiences. Richard Branson acknowledges that the Virgin brand has come into existence gradually. What connected all its different companies -- airlines, banks and music -- was Branson’s passion for selling products and services that could help people have a good time, in places they were least expecting it. Once this passion was identified, Branson made sure to turn it into a philosophy, and incorporate it into every Virgin venture that he launched later on. This philosophy based on well-defined experience became the necessary glue binding Branson’s companies into a coherent brand.


2) Invest your time and money into formulating your value proposition. Then turn it into your brand positioning.  In my experience, this is one of the most powerful drivers of your brand strategy. If done correctly and articulated well, you can’t even begin to imagine how big good brand positioning will be in helping you communicate your brand.

For Virgin, the brand positioning is about the promise of a certain customer experience. If you don’t define your brand positioning, someone else will do it for you. Your competitors, for example.


3) Wear your brand on your sleeve. Put your value proposition out there, and communicate it in an authentic way. To illustrate the point that Virgin “wears humor on its sleeve,” Branson gives an example of a Virgin campaign about its superior customer service, “British Airways doesn’t give a shiatsu”. Want to stand out from the crowd? Drop the boring, corporate talk, and introduce some funky branding into your brand’s DNA.


For more articles about the power of branding, visit my blog posts on the subject:


 5 benefits of strong brands

Branding creates, marketing competes

Interplay between brand strategy and innovation

Brand do not take care of themselves

Brand discourse

Is your brand ready to go online

Smart marketing is key to success on the web

Why venture capitalists should ask startups about brand strategy