VirginBlue Rebrand

The rebrand was part of VirginBlue's move that takes them beyond the cheap and cheerful leisure market into a carrier that aims to appeal to both corporate and leisure market.

New Virgin Australia Logo

As part of bringing VirginBlue back into line with global branding for Virgin they have officially rebranded VirginBlue as Virgin Australia.  The relaunch is not a massive secret as Ausbt leaked part of a internal slide deck back in March that said the timing on phase 2 was on track and the unveiling of the new brand would happen prior to 30th June 2011.  The VirginBlue re-branding was done by Sydney design agency Hulsbosch and was led by their creative director Hans Hulsbosch.  The rebrand was part of VirginBlue’s move that takes them beyond the cheap and cheerful leisure market into a carrier that aims to appeal to both corporate and leisure market.

Virgin relaunch was extensive

The relaunch was supported by a complete overhaul of the Virgin brand in Australia with new uniforms designed by Australian designer Juli Grbac that compliments the new Virgin Australia look. Also relaunching is the new on-board retail menu crafted by Luke Mangan that refocuses the menu options on Australian made and owned produce while show casing a new range of Luke Mangan branded products. There are other changes such as a brand new business class service and a redesign of the cabin interiors to move them ahead of Qantas in the quest to be the number 1 airline in Australia pushed along by Richard Branson.

Richard Branson
Richard Branson

Backlash in the wings?

It seems that initially it’s been quite a successful relaunch for Virgin it will be interested to see how consumers take to the new name or if there might be some backlash from what is a very loyal fanbase. Sometimes consumers win out so what will be the cost if Virgin Australia is pushed back to rename the company in a few months, if the product fails heads will roll. As much as I do like the new branding and planes has the Australian element of “true blue” service been killed off with the rebrand?

Introducing Virgin Australia Planes
Introducing Virgin Australia Planes

What’s left for VirginBlue online?

Obviously VirginBlue has a large number of websites that have to be re-branded Virgin Australia mainly around their affiliate partnerships

  • VirginBlue Tours & Activities (Godo)
  • VirginBlue Car Hire
  • VirginBlue Cruises
  • VirginBlue Weather (
  • VirginBlue Travellers Cheques (AMEX)
  • VirginBlue DreamWorld Tickets
  • VirginBlue Event Tickets (BlueTix)
  • VirginBlue Car Hire
  • VirginBlue Hostels (
  • Airport Transfers (CXBookings)
What about travel agents?
It will not initially be a massive issue for most travel agents and agencies as many consumers will still be referring to VirginBlue and it will take sometime for all the internal marketing materials and POS items to be re-branded so it will just be a minor annoyance.  The only slight issue might be that consumers might get confused between VAustralia and Virgin Australia when trying to get quotes and compare fares since I hear people still ask about flights on Ansett.
What about online partners?
The big curve ball will be the hundreds of online travel booking websites that have spent time and money on getting ranked high in Google for “VirginBlue” related search queries in what is now a defunct brand.  While the Google algorithm may show some intelligence in understanding “VirginBlue” and “Virgin Australia” are the same search query currently the SERPs are dominated by Virgin related brands and news websites reporting on the re-branding. They have at least made the smart move to buy AdWords traffic that supports the relaunch message with links to information about the introduction of Virgin Australia and a link to see their new TV commercial.
virgin australia serps
virgin australia serps
Another bigger issue is that V Australia also dominates many of the search results for “Virgin Australia” type terms so even before it even gets off the ground VirginBlue is already 2 steps behind, so to win does that mean that V Australia has to suffer? The other issue you can see is that Google is not showing the correct meta titles for VirginBlue as even they are getting mixed up and showing V Australia this is likely to get slowly resolved but it’s going to cause more than a few headaches for the branding agency as Google SERPs may not reflect on site changes.
Backlink Analysis of Virgin Websites
I have also looked at the backlinks currently pointed at VirginBlue websites as these are one of the strong ranking factors that Google uses to rank websites and i’ve got some concerns on how smoothly the online brand transition might go. Using Open Site Explorer I was able to quickly look at the anchor text distribution of the backlinks to both of the now competing Virgin airlines and it’s going to be a massive amount of work ahead for Virgin’s SEO agency to get things back on track if they want the new branding to work.  According to OSE of the 92,908 backlinks to VirginBlue only a handful use “Virgin Blue Australia” the rest are focused around VirginBlue keywords, but of the 57,609 backlinks to VAustralia more than a few use “Virgin Australia” making it more likely to rank above the Virgin Australia in Google.
There is a lot of back-breaking work ahead for the online marketing team and web developers over at Virgin but so far they look like they are getting the basics of the relaunch right.

Watch the official new Virgin Australia TV Ad