Virgin Media needed to know when to talk about themselves and when to make it about the customer. We redefined their OMFG attitude, developing an easy new system to help them do things in the right way, at the right time.
They came to us in a strong position, having just achieved their 11th straight quarter of growth with a broadband service that was light-years ahead of the competition.
Now Virgin Media wanted a new logo – one that would ensure they continued to stand out in an increasingly competitive market. But looking at their visual output, it was clear to us that the logo wasn't the problem.
The problem was that they had no system in place to help with visual briefs, meaning they were reinventing the wheel with each campaign. This resulted in communications that – as a whole – had a visual consistency, rather than a visual coherence. The difference here was subtle yet critical – their communications didn't need to look exactly the same. What was important was that everything felt right as a whole.
We set up a series of five sessions with different sets of stakeholders, which we called ‘Mission Control’. Groups of Virgin Media’s people – agency partners, HR, internal brand and marketing teams – came over to our offices, where we audited their print and digital output. In all, around 5,000 pieces, dating back 6 years.
“Some of Virgin Media's comms stood head and shoulders above others, and these superior pieces all felt non-corporate. It was clear from the outset that they needed an ‘uncorporate identity’.” James Titterton, Wolff Olins
These sessions helped Virgin Media's people to air their concerns, which in turn helped us to form a stronger picture of exactly what needed fixing. We put our thoughts into a book that was circulated within Virgin Media, before it grew into a new brief – one that really cut to the chase.
The new brief asked:
1) what was the attitude that ran through Virgin Media?
2) how could we enable them to respond quicker and in the right way?
3) how could we bring that to life in VM's applications?
With respect to Virgin Media's attitude, clearly it needed to be present in everything they did, but what exactly was 'it'? We worked to articulate a new brand personality: open-minded, fun and generous. Or 'OMFG'. This easy and playful acronym identified the key ingredients that needed to be present – to varying degrees – in future briefs.
Some situations would require more fun; others, more generosity, or open-mindedness. But the three elements would always be present. This also helped them to live closer to the identity of Virgin Group: "don't just play the game, change it for good".
With their attitude established, how were they now going to use it? It was clear that all of their communication needs sat on a scale, between highly-personalised at one end, and mass-market at the other. So we created a distinct visual identity system that gave them the flexibility to create communications to fit the range of situations they would encounter. We described this system as: "a little bit of us and a little bit of you".
Some direct marketing situations called for more focus on the customer, and less on Virgin Media ("more of you, less of us"); at other times, with billboard advertising for example, this balance would be reversed ("more of us, less of you"). In other instances, it might sit somewhere in between. But the key benefit of the system was that it would explicitly ask the question at the most valuable time: just as the brief was being written.
“Wolff Olins are a hugely valuable partner. Their work helps us to get more from our creative briefs and, ultimately, more from our communications.” Adrian Spooner, Virgin Media Head of Brand
Everything we did was tested live against incoming briefs. In the absence of large budgets, this avoided big spending on behind-the-scenes testing, as well as providing real-life proof-points with which to assess and further hone the work.
“The Wolff Olins team won me over. Passionate, smart, warm and committed to change for good. I enjoy working with them and no matter what challenge we face, we deliver.” Adrian Spooner, Virgin Media Head of Brand
Virgin Media are already using their new system to communicate with more focus: to do things in the right way, at the right time. They are able to talk about themselves and what they stand for, when required. And they can allow their identity to be more responsive, when talking directly to the customer.
The business is also now able to take communications to market in a quicker and more efficient way, using beta squads to test live briefs against the system before they are finalised.