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A Portal To The Chairman: Virgin Makes It Social

October 22, 2009
virgincompanies.jpgVirgin Companies have built a web portal that not only represents the Virgin brand really well, it’s a simple way to see and interact with all the Virgin companies  — and by “all” I mean all 80 of them.

That’s a big undertaking with potential for clutter, chaos and agnostic branding. Many brands have attempted and succeeded in the latter three, but Virgin does it fluidly with a series of comprehensively categorized drop-down menus that guide users through a plethora of related content and interaction options.

Why it works:

1. They make it easy. It’s experiential and easy to navigate fairly complex content. A single sign-on allows users to add their thoughts on any of their companies.

2. They make it entertaining. Lifestyle categorization teamed with various ways for users to voice their thoughts and see what others think of the posts allows users to really feel part of the brand. Plus it’s completely aligned with and supportive of the brand.

3. They consider their audience. It pays attention to all types of users by having a more traditional navigation easily accessible.

4. They interact. Virgin posts new articles regularly, giving users something to respond to. The brand fosters commenting on and rating articles, contributing and asking the founder and chairman questions. Users can “Ask Richard” anything.

Transparency is front and center as the site reveals both answered (responses with Richard’s icon and handle) and pending questions. Similarly in “Quick Talk,” users not only post questions they want Richard to answer. They can also reply with their own answer and vote on the best questions and answers.

Closing the loop even further, Branson blogs on the site regularly, giving a personal glimpse inside his daily happenings.

It’s nice to see a corporate site break the bland, boring portal mode and become more cultural and conversational. I can think of a few others that could use a make over like this. Can you?

NOTE: This originally appeared on Threeminds. Co-authored with Bill Camp.
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