Richard Branson is one of the largest brander ever existed.
Why and what does it mean?
It means that created a brand, among the most popular ever, with a high market value, but above all, and that make him venerable in the world of branding, it is that his brand lives its identity not tied to the product or to the product manufacturer.
A brand that has its own life, not necessarily related or determined to matter to which it is affixed, should be the dream of every brand manager.
In fact, the brand is used by a huge number of different companies, which have no relationship with each other.
How to put it in connection various radio stations, with an airline, a chain of gyms, a publishing company, a manufacturer of comics, a rental company of private jet or even a shop for wedding dresses in Manchester and an operator of hot air balloons? Among other things, these are just some of the companies that have in license the use of the brand (the list is long), which remains the sole property of Sir. Richard Branson.
In fact, the Virgin Gorup Ltd is a group of separate companies, which have in common only the fact of using the famous brand of what could be considered the greatest brander ever known, that is our dear Branson.
In fact Richard Branson is not owner or majority shareholder of all companies and companies that are part of the group that is determined from a commercial setting very varied. Every company that use the brand, is a separate entity from the other, where Branson in some cases is the sole owner, in others it has only a minority interest and in other cases has granted the use of the trademark for a company bought a part of the division, as has happened with the Virgin Music now owned by EMI which still uses the Virgin brand.
The mark of the Virgin does not born as a record label, but as a small shop that sold records and then became famous as a record label with the sensational disc sales of the then very young Mike Oldfield.
Since then, an endless amount of products have brought the Virgin brand, some no longer under control of Branson, some even that no longer exist, either as products or as companies, others have become famous and others will become famous beyond measure as Virgin Galactic, a company that deals with space “tourist” flights and the Virgin Oceanic with which they aim to plumb the deepest ocean trenches of the earth including the Mariana Trench.
But at the end of this story what is a brander? Basically is a person (or entity) that creates value around a brand. Methods are almost endless to do it, the limits are, as always, the imagination and the budget, of course, design, marketing and communication are the main levers, reputation and brand awareness are the first variables of assessment of the value.
Many times people believe, however, that the brand is just a story around a product in its physical function, which is basically the only thing that really matters, but so would be like saying that the man is just a pile of bones and meat. Instead the brands are entities that move in society, who have a reputation, they have the ability to influence as well as being influenced in turn by the company, just as each of us.
Richard Branson, has expressed this very well, speaking about the new markets that are opening up in China and the validity of the brands to create the contemporary popular culture.
Here’s an excerpt from “The business without secrets. Experiences of a global entrepreneur ” by Richard Branson published by Tecniche Nuove: Each brand communicates something and no one will ever exert effective control over the multiple meanings that it acquires. Brands are ideas, tangles of mental associations, dreams. The environment we live in developed countries is so permeated by the brands to make obvious their power, but we should not underestimate the power that they have in China as force generating of change.
Branson understands well that the brand is a living entity, with no clear boundaries, which must be treated very carefully, because if the customer believes in that brand, this is of great value for the company, but attention, always quoting Branson from the book above: the brand always communicates something. If you don’t control it, means that it will controlled by the competitors.
These and many other lessons can be gathered by the master of branding, that from a mark of a record store, it has turned into a brand now used by more than 300 companies in the world … even if someone thought that brands do not matter much…