In the UK we have held up Richard Branson as the doyen of UK entrepreneurial spirit for 15 years. The proliferation of the Virgin brand in the Nineties did much to reinforce Branson’s aura of invincibility. Brits love an underdog and Virgin has been built on Branson’s ability to take on the establishment and win.
But Virgin’s halo has lost some shine, and critics have been lining up to put the boot in. Consolidating the business prior to global expansion is all well and good, but there doesn’t appear to be a clear strategy across geography or sector. Such a broad and disparate brand will be difficult to manage. Any global economies of scale will be lost. Values will vary by region and stage of business development.
The one thing that Branson has over other venture capitalists is the strength of Virgin as a brand, and its “stretchability”. If in the excitement of the prospect of global domination he loses sight of the importance of the brand then global expansion must be doomed to failure. The fact is that all brands have a finite ability to stretch across markets and sectors before they snap.
One can’t help but feel, however, that the critics may be proved wrong once again
The Value Engineers