What’s in a Name?

Posted on July 23, 2009


I'm no longer a Virgin virgin.  That's sounds a little X-rated, so let me explain.  I recently flew on Virgin America for the first time.  I'd heard great things about the airline and was pumped to find they were my cheapest cross-country flight option.  I quickly learned, Virgin or otherwise that a flight's just a flight and an airplane is just another airline.

When I first hopped on board, I felt like I was heading into a dimly lit club.  Purple lighting set the cool vibe and a Richard Branson cartoon welcomed me aboard.  That's where the special treatment ended and my flight became just like all the other red eye flights I've taken on United and Jet Blue.  There was still a man behind me that wouldn't turn his light off.  Another man across the aisle couldn't hold onto his coffee and jolted me awake by spilling on my feet.  The flight attendants crammed my elbows with every passing… and the list goes on.  Yes, it's great to have leather seats and a TV on your seatback, but does the entire experience hold up the "cool factor" associted with the brand?  I'd argue that it doesn't.

I didn't immediately recap my experience because I honestly hoped the return trip would redeem the brand.  Not so.  Apart from the cool lounge at Boston's Logan, there was again, nothing special about my flight.  I think this is a case of a brand setting high expectations and not following through.  In order for you to embrace the "cool," everyone needs to showcase that feeling – from flight attendants to gate agents, customer service reps and company execs.

Maybe Virgin is just spread too thin.  Maybe they're so heavily invested in their wine making business that they've forgotten all about their air travel arm…  Marketers: If you're going to heavily brand everything you do, make the brand a strong and consistent one.


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