I’ve been a fan of Burberry since as long as I could remember. Before I knew anything about branding, I knew that my mom had a purse with the signature tartan check pattern bought by my father sometime in the 80s when he used to travel to London for business.
I moved to Europe in 2004 and became acquainted with the brand and its visual identity. The equestrian knight, created over 100 years ago, depicted grandeur, pride, and purity. Present across multiple touchpoints for the client — from store windows to packaging down to the label. The logo I was familiar with back in the turn of the century was a modernised version of the brand’s previous version which lasted 30 years. Since the dawn of time, the word mark featured a serif font, an embodiment of European sophistication.
What was once ubiquitous among the upper class, soon became one of the most copied prints in fashion, a “pattern of the masses” as it was known. It was also gang wear in the late ’90s. So it’s not surprising the brand needed to evolve.
In 2018, a new Creative Director takes over and delivers a fresh new visual language. The horse was killed off and a new monogram was born. The Bodoni-style word mark was replaced by a new trend – bold sans-serif lettering looking exactly like other fashion houses. A move to please Gen Z’s senses.
Fast forward to 2023, a change in the Creative Direction means once again an update on the brand’s identity. The horse is resuscitated. The word mark is revamped with an original typeface, that differs completely in style and mood from the previous one. Alas!
So as a Brand Strategist I can’t help but wonder — What does Burberry’s latest change tell us about heritage and identity? What do we make of the return of the horse? For one that Burberry respects what was built over decades. That it understands the value of its identity, confirming that a brand with the stature of Burberry can’t follow a fad. Such move makes a brand look desperate. That’s because Burberry, and like hundreds of other centennial brands aren’t built in a day, a month or even a year – it takes time and patience to build authenticity and earn trust from the communities.
This beckons the question: Why does a Creative Director have such power to lead this instrumental change? Where is a Brand Director role in all of this?
As Deloitte Digital so eloquently put it in its BrandWorth report: “Your brand is more than a marketing tool, it is truly a financial asset — one that can be leveraged to attract better talent, create pricing power, identify unexpected partnerships and generate sales beyond the now.”
We at Strawberry Brand Studio would have a field day diving deep into the archives of the brand, speaking with several stakeholders to envision how the brand can evolve without losing touch of its roots. But for now, I feel the new look does justice to the brand’s identity. It respects the past, while at the same time, embraces the future. The electric blue certainly signals an exciting new chapter for the brand — A bold statement for a brand that owned a terracotta world of hues for almost a century.