In a classic piece of disruptive innovation in branding, Virgin Money just introduced a credit card based on the iconic logos of the Sex Pistols’ designs for “Anarchy in the UK” and “Never Mind the Boll….cks, Here’s The Sex Pistols”. Virgin Money’s CEO and Marketing Director were talking with me about the card and you can read all about Virgin’s latest move at Never Mind The Bankers.
“We want to get rid of the bollocks in banking and to be simple, open, transparent and fair”
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Virgin Money’s CEO
As is Sir Richard Branson’s way, Virgin challenges norms, having disrupted British Airway’s cosy relationship with the British Government in the 1980’s when they launched Virgin Atlantic. I’ve been chatting about the credit card concept to people from several walks of life to find out how they see the strategy. It becomes clear that Virgin have succeeded in polarising views from different segments of society:
Some of my “arty” friends are “appalled at the theft of punk’s pure clothes for the purposes of banking”. I guess this is the punk rock version of “Angry of Camden”:
Some of my banking friends are “outraged at the use of street culture to demean the upper class world of banking”. I guess this will soon appear in a letter to the Financial Times from a man or a woman in a bowler hat living in Surbiton:
The point of the matter is that Sir Richard Branson has succeeded on every level, gaining publicity through disruptive thinking.
I answer my arty friends thus:
“All good disruption eventually becomes part of the mainstream. Check out the punk fashion in Claire’s Accessories if you don’t believe me”
I answer my banking friends thus:
“It’s about time banking woke up to customers, mainly in terms of substance e.g. convenience, simplicity, but a bit of style would also do no harm”
So, I think this is an incredibly shrewd and clever move on the part of Virgin to cast a shadow on the battleship grey industry that is banking. It’s a marvellous piece of market segmentation that gains publicity and viral value through controversy. Let’s see the masters of controversy in action:
The Virgin Battleship Building – Not Grey
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Peter Cook is author of “The Music of Business” and “Punk Rock People Management” which simplify business leadership, creativity and innovation, strategic thinking and people management for busy people.
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