Be obsessed with details, details, details

Life at Virgin, as many of the team will tell you, is never dull. After a topsy-turvy week, it was great to be able to celebrate something wholly positive with Virgin Atlantic, as the airline’s inaugural flight to the wonderful city of Seattle touched down.

After taking our Business is an Adventure event series to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Boston last year, it seemed appropriate to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s new route by once again gathering together the brightest business brains in the city for an hour long debate.

Seattle is, after all, a place with a proud entrepreneurial heritage, with global success stories such as Starbucks, Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft being founded in the Emerald City (think I prefer that to the Rainy City!). So it was particularly pleasing to be joined by three fellow business leaders who represent the city’s next wave of talent.

Alongside me were Nadia Shouraboura - founder and CEO of Hointer, angel investor and PicMonkey CEO Jonathan Sposato and Chase Jarvis - founder and CEO of Creative Live (which I should add I’m a proud investor of!). Our hour long debate was expertly marshalled by KING 5’s Mimi Jung, as we discussed everything from diversity in business to our different routes into entrepreneurship.

Often during these live events my favourite section is when we’re joined on stage by local small businesses with huge potential, who share their problems and opinions with us, and this time around was no different. One of the entrepreneurs, Nishant Singh - co-founder of food delivery app Peach, wanted to know how we make people fall in love with our businesses. What a fascinating question and not the easiest to answer!

The airline industry is actually a very good example when working out what it is that makes people love a brand. After all, each airline uses the same planes as we all buy them from Boeing or Airbus, but you have a blank sheet of paper to work with. You don’t look at this as a restrictive process, it’s one full of opportunity. The truth is, you just need to get every single detail right.

The reaction passengers have when they step on the plane needs to be ‘wow’ and the way you train your people needs to result in them 100 per cent believing in your product – everything must sparkle. Further to that, if you work for the airline then you need to be on the flights, talking to staff and customers, assessing everything that is going on. Bring your notepad and write points on everything imaginable about the experience, if you spot a problem, make sure you sort it out.

The bigger your business, the more important this approach is. Luckily for us, I suspect that many of our rivals don’t work on the same basis, with CEOs taking private jets instead of their own service. I recall taking a trip to the bathroom on a Virgin Atlantic fight not so long ago and spotting a design feature that wasn’t quite right. I made a note in my pad and then went and found the nearest member of staff to explain what needed to change – people must have wondered what I was doing dragging a member of cabin crew to the bathroom!

Building a loved brand doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, effort, patience and an obsession with details, details and more details.

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