Virgin Money looks to join the mainstream

Following the deal to buy Northern Rock, Virgin will soon be able to add High Street banks to the seemingly endless list of products and services under its ubiquitous brand.
Encompassing holidays and gyms, trains and planes, mobile phones and music festivals, the Virgin brand is everywhere.

But not everything Richard Branson touches turns to gold.
His great skill, analysts say, has been knowing when to sell and how to extract the best possible price for his assets.
There have been exceptions. Although the Virgin empire began with a chain of record shops in the 1970s, Mr Branson ended up selling Virgin Megastores in 2007 for just £1.
But even projects that have proved less than successful, such as the Virgin Brides wedding dress business that closed in 2007, have failed to dent the brand's seemingly impregnable aura.
"Virgin still has a huge pull with consumers and is still considered to represent good customer service," says Rich Sutcliffe, editor of Brand Republic.
By extension, this makes the brand attractive to businesses. Mr Sutcliffe cites NTL's rebranding as Virgin Media, also in 2007, which allowed the company to increase its advertising revenues considerably.
The key to the brand's success is simple, says Mr Sutcliffe: Richard Branson.
"He is undeniably one of the most charismatic and successful business entrepreneurs [in the UK]."