Building a comprehensive approach to sound across a diverse portfolio
As a global investment group operating in the hospitality and travel sector — as well as media, entertainment, financial services, and beyond — Virgin is a rare brand that’s able to maintain a consistent and well-recognized identity despite being spread across such seemingly disparate interests. That consistency is due in no small part to a clear brand personality and point of view that’s carried through its visual identity and messaging. And as a company with origins in independent music, it’s natural that sound would play a critical role in bringing the brand to life.
Building on a rich musical legacy and the entrepreneurial spirit of founder Richard Branson, Virgin launched a sound identity that provides a strategic framework for sound, music, and voice, offering consistent guidance for all of its sub-brands. Virgin’s sound helps to amplify a brand personality that’s bold, optimistic, and shaking things up, yet also fun and approachable. As a result, the brand’s audio toolkit includes an ownable sound logo and brand anthem with variations tailored to a wide variety of channels and sub-brand needs.
The strategy also extends to Virgin Podcasts, a roster of original series focused on diverse themes relevant to the brand mission, including wellness, climate change, business innovation, and industry disruption. The sound identity for Virgin Podcasts maintains the distinctive appeal of the brand while allowing for enough flexibility to work across programs. As consumer engagement with podcasts and streaming audio continues to grow, branded audio content becomes a larger opportunity to connect and build equity. Considering Virgin’s existing credibility in the music space, and the wide swath of content delivery points available across their flights, cruises, gyms, and hotels, original music and audio content is a key way to curate and shape travelers’ experience with the brand.
For Virgin Voyages, sound and music are core to the cruise ship experience, setting this new venture apart from the more conventional players in the industry. Virgin Voyages launched its inaugural ship in early 2020 featuring a vinyl record shop with personal listening stations and private karaoke lounges, and has commissioned renowned musicians and DJs such as Mark Ronson to curate onboard mixes and perform live sets. (1) Since music is already deeply embedded into the foundation of the brand’s culture, Virgin can show up authentically across countless sonic touchpoints.
But other brands in the hospitality and travel sector can respond to consumer interests in sound and music content and experiences to build connections with visitors and travelers.
“Sound has that magic quality of irresistibly drawing and uniting people together. It changes our moods, invokes memories and alters our energy levels.” — Chris Stubbs, Senior Director of Sailor Experience, Virgin Voyages (2)
Written by Paul Amitai, Executive Strategy Director
Published June 2020
(1) "Virgin Voyages Turns Up the Volume with Curated Sonic Identity, Onboard Record Shop & Karaoke Lounge," Virgin Voyages (Mar 27, 2019).
(2) “Sea of Sound: Mark Ronson, DJ MK and Sofi Tukker join Virgin Voyages,” Virgin (Mar 27, 2019).
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