Branson on business and branding

Virgin boss Richard Branson on business and branding as told to Fast Company:

Branson on business –

  • Profits are a by-product. “The bottom line has never been a reason for doing anything. It’s much more the satisfaction of creating things that you’re proud of and making a difference.”
  • When you screw up, fess up. “The important thing is to acknowledge when you haven’t gotten it right. The much bigger risk is to let your reputation erode away by not getting it right.”
  • There’s no room for second best. “In the end, if you can create the best, the best will always succeed. In the airline business, that’s particularly the case. If you’re smaller than the big guys, then you have to be the best by far, really.”
  • Go with your gut. “Sure, we will do market research, but in the end it comes down to you having to decide yourself and being willing and ready to give it a go. Be willing to fall flat on your face if it doesn’t work.”
  • Don’t answer to anyone. “If it’s a private company, you can get away with more. If it’s my money, then if I lose my money, no one else has been hurt by it.”

Fast Company | Business the Branson Way

Branson on branding –

  • “Bad” businesses can be good for the brand. Branson uses his “bad” businesses to promote his good ones. He’s spending freely to remodel Virgin’s music stores even though CDs may be obsolete. Why? With 15 million young customers, they’re a marketing vehicle for profitable new ventures such as Virgin Mobile.
  • Be the brand. Branson’s success comes largely from personifying the Virgin brand. He’s 54 and Virgin is in its fourth decade, but the man and his brand still act very young: They’re cheeky, irreverent, and outrageous.
  • The brand is a big idea, not a narrow niche. Experts say a brand should represent a specific product category. Branson infuriates them because he has made Virgin represent an image and a lifestyle that stretches across a spectrum of products.
  • Forget the “first mover” advantage. The experts say that the first company in a category has a big advantage, but Branson consistently enters businesses late and finds ways to improve them.

Fast Company | Branding the Branson Way

Fast Company also reports on Virgin Brand, a blog that tracks the ups and downs of Virgin’s – and Branson’s – brand performance. Written by John Beohm, “a uni student from Canberra, Australia who has nothing to do with Virgin at all. I just think they are very cool.”