Absolute Radio was right to jettison the Virgin brand

The brand is your calling card: your name, number and address, your persona. You don't muck about with it.

Particularly in media, everything you do and every contact with the consumer must reiterate the brand's values - the product, the ads, the website, even the way the switchboard people answer the phone.

Do it right and millions of interactions reinforce consumers' understanding and affection. Do it right and the brand becomes the life savings - not something anyone would sensibly abandon.

So what on earth is going on in Golden Square, where those reckless lads from Absolute Radio have just turfed out one of the biggest names on the planet for a radio brand most of us have never heard of, just because they own the url?

Meanwhile, major companies across the globe are falling over themselves to dub TV services, mobile phone operators and credit cards with the ubiquitous Virgin name.

The Virgin brand is on trains and planes and space shuttles. Wherever it goes, it carries its payload of individuality - its service with a twist of funky, little guy picks fight with vast corporation.

What a fabulous heritage for a brand.

Well, I suppose there's the money. It would have cost £8m more to acquire Virgin Radio with the name intact. But for the Times of India Group - the big pockets behind the deal - this is peanuts.

For my money, the boys in Golden Square have done a brave and a wise thing. Sure, it flies against the norm - not unlike the brand they have just evicted.

The Virgin brand is not the asset it once was. Just as every positive touchpoint pays into that bank account of upstart distinctiveness, irritations with a train or a mobile phone - transactions that are fraught with problems, whoever the operator - make clunky great withdrawals from the family's joint account.

But the real point of ditching the name concerns where TIML could take the brand.

Answer? Nowhere. Virginradio.com belongs to Richard Branson. Under it, he has launched radio stations online and around the world. So you can forget that global radio strategy or, indeed, any adjacent sector that might fit with the station.

The sad truth is that there is no longer any future for a stand-alone radio brand. In opting for Absolute, the company's new management has bought itself a licence to broaden the brand into broadband and beyond. Just as long as it don't want to do vodka.

- Richard Eyre is a media pluralist, richard.eyre@haymarket.com.

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