Virgin is a brand that consistently takes our daily activities and finds ways to make them better. Whether it’s ‘Rock Star Service’ on Virgin Holidays or superfast broadband on Virgin Media. Yes they don’t always get it right, and of course each element of the VIrgin brand is a separate entity in its own right, but the overall Virgin approach is spectacular.
Now, the Virgin brand is shaking up the banking industry. Virgin Money has been going for some time of course but it has been an online bank, not a high street one. This week, they announced that they are hitting the high street. How are they doing that you may ask? Have they bought out another high street bank and are giving its branches a Virgin makeover? No. Oh, so are they opening new branches with lots of red colour and branded staff? Nope. Are they opening branches at all? Nope. Instead they’re opening a range of customer lounges – places where Virgin Money customers can access free Wifi, grab a coffee, play with iPads, and generally relax. Oh yes, and be bombarded with Virgin Money marketing messages and branding. But, hey, it’s amazing what people will do for a free coffee.
This is a great way for a brand to really engage with its customers. To create an atmosphere, a brand experience, that puts customers into the best possible state of mind to be sold financial services to. They’re removing the stress, worry and overall intimidating nature of most high street bank branches and making people feel at home, to have fun and to feel good about their finances. It’s genius. I already want to be a Virgin Money customer.
They’re starting with four centres in London, Edinburgh, Norwich and Manchester and intend to open 70 bank ‘branches’ over the next five-year period.
This approach could herald the start of a new high street environment. I seriously hope more brands take this on board and consider what their customer experience currently is and how it can be improved. And for business to business models? Well, the office is one area to consider, but perhaps a stronger place to look is your online environment. Sit back, hook up to your wifi, sip your coffee and consider…”how are my customers feeling about my brand right now?”.
To read more about Virgin’s new lounges, check out this link here