Virgin Hotel – using brand to reframe another category

brand design, brand agency

With the crown for the most elastic brand, Virgin has managed to reinvent and standout in many categories including music, finance, telecommunication and entertainment. In travel, they have been particularly successful in showing up heritage brands for being out of touch with customers.

Following the success of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America, the company has now launched Virgin Hotels. In keeping with the Virgin brand tradition, the hotel is another great example of a truly differentiated brand experience in every way.

brand design, brand agency

In the highly competitive hotel market, it can be extremely hard to differentiate. But Virgin Hotels has considered just about every little detail to ensure the brand stands out.

Once again their brand beliefs are built around turning customer frustrations into moments of delight. From ‘The Chamber’ (the room), ‘The Commons Club’ (the bar/lounge), ‘The Kitchen’ (the restaurant) to the wellness focussed gym and spa – everything is reimagined. It starts with thinking what a hotel can look like and more importantly, what it can be – all based on an unrelenting dedication tot he customer and heartfelt service.

The brand voice is very Virgin and takes every opportunity it can to be a ‘wake up call’ for the industry. Its full of personality with the fun and cheek dialled up to the max. Every little consumer benefit is cleverly weaved into the conversation to make it all feel so seamless and compared to competition, very compelling.

Wifi is not just free, it is unlimited. “No nickel and diming, no charging extra for bandwidth – if you want to download some guilty pleasures, play PC games, or stream some video subscriptions, naughty or otherwise, please, have at it.” is boldly stated on the website.

Techonology is also cleverly integrated into just about every experience. From controlling the room temperature and entertainment on your phone to streaming your own movies on the television, it really makes it feel like a smart home.

brand design

The smarts of the room design aside, the revolution of the mini bar to make it street prices makes reinforces how other hotels are just ripping us off. Allowing pets in the rooms also breaks another industry convention but could also be polarising depending on not how you feel pets – especially other people’s dog’s barking.

Virgin Hotels is another great example of what the Virgin brand can inspire in terms of product development. Hopefully this might rub off on Virgin Australia who seems to still be stuck in an identity crisis where it is not sure whether it is a budget or full service airline and is not excelling at either.

The first Virgin Hotel is now open in Chicago with others set to open across the USA soon. Other locations across the world, including Australia have not been confirmed yet.

Michael Hughes
Managing Partner, Strategy

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