When the East Coast line announcement was made something that struck me as odd was that stagecoach were to own 90% of the company with Virgin the remaining 10% but the company was to be called Virgin. Why was this?

“Inter City Railways is 90% owned by Stagecoach, but the trains will be branded ‘Virgin Trains East Coast’.”

This is not the first time that this has happened. When NTL merged with Virgin Mobile it was the latter, junior partner, whose name was retained rather than NTL the approval rating of which was rock bottom.

If you were to ask someone to describe the Virgin brand the following are all words people might use:

  • Cool
  • Trusted
  • Young
  • Innovative
  • Media savvy

Certainly not words that people used to describe NTL so you can see why it and others might choose to use the Virgin brand name rather than their own.

There is a real risk in this for Virgin’s founder Richard Branson in that the company using the Virgin name might taint it for the whole group. So how does he ensure that this doesn’t happen? Quite simply through the following beliefs:

  • Make a difference
  • Be innovative
  • Empower your employees
  • Listen to your customers

A powerful list that can lead to you creating a brand that is as loved as Virgin.

Of course the challenge for Virgin is to ensure from a 10% stake that they are associated with a company which lives up to the above – but they have certainly managed to do that to date.

Image courtesy of Virgin Trains.

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