It was designed in the 1970s by graphic artist Ray Kyte – aprocryphally on the back on an envelope in a pub, where he, Richard Branson and a few others were bouncing around a few rudimentary ideas for a corporate identity.
“It betrays its heritage,” says Clare Fuller, managing director of London corporate identity specialists Bamber Forsyth. “But the graphic support material that works beneath it is really quite sophisticated.”
It’s remarkable that such a rudimentary logotype is able to hold such a diverse company – or more accurately group of companies – together, but Virgin is lucky enough to have a powerful figurehead whose presence runs through the entire organisation. “Virgin’s strong spirit comes right from the top,” says Fuller. “I’ve done quite a bit of [strategic corporate identity] work with Virgin Airlines and was struck how much responsibility was given to people at a young age. They all tended to have a good feeling about what the brand stood for.”
The hand-rendered quality of the Virgin logo hints at its counter-cultural roots, but also implies there is room for individual personality to blossom within the company. The fact that it slopes upwards, hints at optimism and a progressive outlook. All in all, it couldn’t be more appropriate.