If you take the Ansoff matrix at face value – and follow the “safer” Z sequence, you would never jump straight to a diversification strategy.
Does Richard Branson care? Hardly. He’d probably point to a Harvard study that found that there is no correlation between companies with a strategy and business success. If anything, companies with a fixed strategy can’t change course and are bound by CEO dogma and of-course-it’ll-work pride.
Branson – sorry, Sir Richard Branson – has gone from organising hippy concerts in fields to setting up a record company, airlines, trains, credit cards, advertising services, cola … you name it.
But for any of this to work, you need to build on something (sorry: that’s plain English for “leverage synergies”). But few of the areas Branson branches out into are related.
So what is the Branson “synergy” that all of this is built on? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just the Virgin image. A belief his customers have in the product if it’s got Branson behind it? Faith in a self-made millionaire? Certainly, this brand would have none of the clout outside the UK. Maybe we Brits like a local hero and that’s what we buy into when we buy Virgin.
But whatever it is, Branson needs no matrix.