Northern Rock has been sold and depending on your media source may affect how you view the deal. The fine print and details will leak eventually and we imagine that the tax payers will not have lost as much as reported. The upshot is an attempt to increase the competition in the banking market place, this will hopefully lead to greater products and services for the customer, us.
Branson and his Virgin brand have tried before to expand in a number of domains in the past but have been rebuffed for one reason or another (National Lottery and Concorde spring to mind) so it is good to see a new contender enter the arena.
From a design perspective our interest lies in the branding of the bank, rumour has it that the Northern Rock branches and assets that were bought will be branded Virgin Money. This makes total sense as the Northern Rock brand is pretty tarnished by the issues that started in 2007 it is prudent to disassociate the new business with the issues of the past pretty quickly. Even if Virgin hadn’t acquired a business that was as sullied, Virgin is a bold, fun and brash brand that would not weaken themselves by merging with an existing identity. The key to the re-branding will be how they package the existing values into the more corporate customer facing banking world. The danger with Virgin is that if they play it too fun then it will be difficult to build any confidence, whereas the customers will not want more of the same.
When Virgin bought NTL they had acquired a failing business and attacked the new industry with gusto, I think it’s fair to say, with limited success. It is only after a period of years that Virgin Media has differentiated itself from competitors and is beginning to make an impact. I would expect some lessons to have been learnt here and the move into banking to be smoother.
At the absolutely least, expect a lot of red and at least one press image of Branson holding a wad of cash though.
Although, it would have been fun to see a merging of the brands, if only for the occasion when you can proudly announce that you are going to make a deposit a Northern Virgin.