Virgin is an iconic brand with flashy origins and a charismatic leader. As a champion for consumers everywhere, Virgin is in the business of disrupting industries and breathing new life into them.

Next up? The hotel business. With a master brand already established, UPBrand was selected from a competitive group to lead the employee branding effort.

Make Love & Steal Hearts

The challenge was to translate the rebellious brand into something that works in a hotel setting. They needed a hook that everyone from hourly employees to executive staff could believe in. Something that would attract mavericks of the hospitality industry who would still show up to work on time.

Keying off insights from a variety of Virgin cultures, we developed a conceptual theme for employee engagement and recruitment: Make Love & Steal Hearts, a unique employee brand with an ethos, spirit and compelling story. A signature style visually illustrated the employee culture, while remaining loyal to the Virgin brand, style and tone.

A target employee profile and recruiting strategy was created to help leadership identify preferred candidates. And we made dynamic on-boarding materials to set up new hires for success in the Virgin system.

Finally, we engaged our partners at RevUnit to build the ultimate digital employee experience. 1 part social platform, 1 part loyalty program, and 2 parts attitude, The Beat formed the connective tissue between high-performing Virgin employees.

Pre-screening, retention and engagement rates have exceeded industry standards, even as new locations pop up around the country.


Like at many hotels, new leaders get a manual with everything they need to know to succeed. Unfortunately, Virgin’s initial draft was a long, dry read that failed to communicate the uniqueness of the Virgin Hotels brand.

UPBrand led a major overhaul of the manual, infusing it with the fun personality of the brand to get leaders oriented with the culture from the get-go.

The Rockstar Treatment

Paper certificates may feel like a reward at a boring hotel, but how does a Virgin Hotels recognize its employees of the quarter? With personality, of course.

Our team concepted thematic gift boxes including custom posters, t-shirts, sassy temporary tattoos, custom scratch-off reward tickets and more, to help employees feel more like the rock stars they are.

Now every quarter, Virgin can show their best employees the love, giving them the ovation they deserve.

Stealing Hearts from a Distance

Every company had to address the pandemic in one way or another, and the hospitality industry is no exception. But, just because the pandemic is serious doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. We were challenged to create “safe distance” signage and swag with Virgin’s playful personality. When in doubt, imagine there’s 6 magical feet of unicorn between us.