In today’s world, with the fragmentation of media and the many communication platforms available, businesses face the challenge of staying top of mind with their consumers. It is not enough to throw up a billboard or a TV advert. Brands must also be where the attention is, and the bulk of consumer attention is increasingly online and mobile.
To ensure success, brand orientation must be high, that means that the organization must value branding and spend resources towards building brand capabilities. The brand promise must be strongly defined and adopted across the organization and all marketing efforts must be integrated and consistent. Like Duncan and Moriarty (1998) say, “everything sends a message”.
Virgin Active understands that going to the gym and living healthy can be hard work and they focus on making the experience as innovative, consumer focused and as fun as possible, this execution is their UVP. There is always a new class, new activities and equipment at Virgin Active. Their tagline is heavily emotive – ‘How will Virgin Active make you feel? Go there’. They clearly understand the importance of emotional and brand resonance. The Virgin Active experience is decidedly different and in true Virgin fashion, focused on delivering impeccable service and keeping their members happy.
The brand is active on multiple digital channels, using their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email Marketing and even an App to drive home the brand promise of making healthy living fun. I break them down below.
The website is well designed and maintained, the main banners quickly communicate the products (gym memberships, promotions and features) as well as interesting lifestyle value ads like ‘mouth watering gluten mother’s day free pancakes). The rest of the site is easy to navigate, very visual, very exciting. It draws you in and makes you want to know more and be a part of this brand experience.
There is brand continuation with consistent application of graphics and logo. There is a prominent call to action to sign up. Lots of images on the platform showcase communications around product offerings, classes, and facilities as well as the many events they sponsor. They are responsive to inquiries and interact with their community, but I would suggest even more engagement on this platform. They could actively search for people who are into fitness and health and speak directly with them.
Virgin active continues to deliver a seamless brand experience on this social platform, with a consistent application of the brand identity and a respect of the platform. Twitter’s greatest strength is the opportunity to talk to and connect in real time with other users and the brand does this quite well. Its focus here is on interaction with its members, retweeting users that post about their awesome workouts or even to compliment great service at the various gyms across the country. There is the occasional post with the call to action to sign up or join the club, which is great as Twitter is primarily for conversation. High marks for them on their work here.
Instagram is also leveraged quite well, and the strengths of the platform are respected. It has the lowest amount of following but the most engagement, with likes and views consistently in the hundreds. They post high quality aspiration images showcasing food, their facilities, work-outs, inspirational quotes as well as images from their events. I would suggest adding some posts with call to actions as well and utilizing instagram stories. Otherwise, another platform being used well.
Email is still one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers, and Virgin Active makes sure to send out an email to its list about 2-3 times a month. These newsletters keep members up to date with the latest offerings, classes and new innovations.
In line with the Virgin way of being innovative and creating delightful experiences for its customers, Virgin Active also has a mobile app that makes it easy to check out schedules and book classes. It even shows you how often you have been to the gym so you can track your workouts. If meal plans and workout tips were incorporated into the app, this could be a tremendous value ad.
YouTube is the least used platform by Virgin seeming more like a repository of videos that are part of other campaigns and communications. However with more and more people turning to YouTube for entertainment and education, there is opportunity to story tell, showcase the facilities, their members and drive more brand resonance.
In conclusion, the Virgin Active brand does a fantastic job at communicating a clear brand message on multiple platforms. I would suggest that they consider partnering with influencers. Health and fitness is all the rage, and there are personalities with hundreds of thousands of followers that they could tap into to increase their reach further. They should also leverage the platforms with more followers (Facebook/Twitter) to drive traffic and increase following on the other platforms (Instagram/YouTube).