Image Is No Substitute for Value

By Fletcher, Winston | Management Today, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Image Is No Substitute for Value


Fletcher, Winston, Management Today


Virgin Cola is an inferior drink which deserved to fail, says Winston Fletcher. Richard Branson ignored traditional marketing, relying on Virgin's image instead

All serious business people - and most certainly all serious marketing people - should greet the decline and fall of Virgin Cola with loud hosannas and a fanfare of trumpets. No doubt that sounds rather uncharitable. But Virgin' Cola did not deserve to succeed, and its stumbling progress reveals a great deal both about the Virgin brand and about the healthy nature of marketing in a highly competitive economy.

Virgin may find the truth unpalatable but nobody with taste buds worthy of the name believes Virgin Cola to be as good as either Coke or Pepsi. In addition to the forceful and unyielding opinions of my own palate, there is copious evidence from all around the world that the Cott recipe on which the Virgin brand is based is less acceptable than its two great competitors. (Both of which, make no mistake about it, are ambrosial drinks: nobody gets to be that successful selling fizzy puddlewater.)

Brands that guarantee value

Naturally the supermarkets, eyeing the sales and profits of the two great colas, wanted to have a share of the action. And they hoped that there would be a significant segment of customers either willing to sacrifice quality to save money, or with tongues so furred up they couldn't discriminate between the good, the bad and the wishy-washy. They have been proved modestly right - though far fewer customers are willing to buy colas on price than might have been expected.

But brands called Sainsbury or Tesco carry a particular kind of value guarantee. When customers choose a retailer's brand, they know what they are getting. Virgin, however, is something else. The Virgin brand does not carry the same connotations as a retailer's brand. And strange though this may sound, in my view, branding is something that Virgin does not understand that well.

A taste for publicity stunts

Virgin's confusion about its own brand name probably stems from two sources. First, Virgin began life in the pop music business. Second, it has been established by means of 19th century publicity stunts rather than by 20th century marketing.

First, Virgin's origins. In the music business - as in the publishing and movie businesses - manufacturers' brand names don't mean a lot. Sales follow artists. It must be very galling to publishers that book buyers choose authors rather than imprints, and deeply hurtful to movie magnates that cinema-goers favour stars and directors rather than production companies. But that's the way things are. (Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg are not exceptions to this rule. They made their names as directors, and their brands are still expected to reflect their particular directorial skills.).

Branson never made music. He was a record publisher who picked well and managed adroitly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Image Is No Substitute for Value
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.