Last week saw the high-profile launch of Virgin Media, following the merger of NTL/Telewest and Virgin Mobile. The "quad-play company will offer cable TV, broadband internet, fixed phone and mobile.
It will be interesting to see if this is a Virgin "hit", like Virgin Atlantic, where the brand is driven through the whole business. Or will it be one of the many "flops", like Virgin Jeans and Vodka, where the Virgin name is used as an "image wrapper" to cover up a medicore or crappy product? After all, cable TV company NTL had a woeful reputatation for customer service, becoming known as "NTHell". The BBC consumer affairs programme Watchdog did a fearture on the company's customer service after getting a whopping 1700 complaints.
Well, there are some encouraging signs that this will work. First, this is a service business, where Virgin performs well and has a lot of know-how. At the time of the take-over last April Virgin management promised "significant participation from the Virgin Group and Virgin Management to secure Virgin culture and ideals throughout the organisation to improveme customer care". The second positive sign is the time taken before re-branding the business: almost a year. Rather than rushing into a name change to cash in on the strength of the Virgin brand, time has been taken to get the business sorted.
More next week on Virgin's mixed record on brand extension, and why its one of the most mis-understood and mis-used example of brand stretching ever.