Well it’s been an interesting week in the fashion world with the launch of the new Burberry identity by Peter Saville. I must admit when I first saw the new design I was pretty critical, my emotional side took over, thoughts such as ‘what have they done’, ‘they look like everyone else’ and of course ‘how much did that cost’ came into my head. It also probably didn’t help that while I was flicking through Vogue the Burberry advert was unfortunately placed very close to an advert for Saint Laurent with a striking similar identify. However, as I’ve looked further into the brand’s heritage and given the new identity a bit of time to settle my opinions have changed.
As we know the new clean identify has caused quite a stir and have divided opinions across the design community. Now maybe we’ve been quick to judge and like myself the emotions have got in the way. Was this part of the strategy? Think about it for a second, it’s produced some great PR for Burberry over the last week, no one is criticizing the products they produce or the customer service, I’m probably going to be trolled for this but everyone is getting hung up over a font and an illustration. As we love to say in advertising we invest a lot of ‘emotion’ in brands however in all honesty it’s not going to stop you buying their products, in fact I’m sure the stakeholders will be wanting to attract new younger audiences to the brand to keep it more relevant and fight in an ever-changing market place where new brands are constantly emerging and taking market share. Just have to look at the dominance and popularity of new brands such as Off-white to see what Burberry is up against. After all we need to remember a brand is much more than a logo, this is simply a small visual part of the brands representation to its audience.
Let’s get into the detail, from reading comments online and on social media many believe that Creative Director, Riccardo Tisci, has managed to erase the brands heritage and copy everyone else out there. Is this really the case?
Obviously, the previous brand identity was well ingrained within the fashion industry and some may say an icon of British culture. However, if you don’t evolve and move ahead with the times you will very quickly become irrelevant – just ask Aquascutum. Any kind of change was always going to cause issues and like I mentioned above we are not aware of the overall strategy or business forces driving the rebrand. I have to assume that in the ever-demanding and crowded world of fashion Burberry felt that a change was required in order for them to be relevant with modern audiences. I’m sure the brief to Mr Saville was to update the Burberry identity for the modern age after all the words inscribed in the previous logo Prorum – in Latin means forward.
A quick search on Pinterest and you can find an early Burberry logo from 1908 where I’m assuming after Tisci’s deep dive into the archives the inspiration for the new identity has come from. The typeface similar to Monsterrat or Sweet Sans Pro is almost identical, accept the new identity is spaced closed together and of a heavier typeface.
Yes, the identity is pretty generic now in the fashion industry, just look at Saint Laurent, Mr Porter, Calvin Klein, Chanel to name but a few. Place them all next to each other and they look nearly identical. Now there is an argument that Burberry is honouring its heritage by going back to its original identity, plus with its new monogram it pays homage to the house’s founder Thomas Burberry. Regardless of the other brands using similar typefaces it is relevant to brands, gives them more flexibility moving forward and more importantly works in the digital age we live in.
Finally, why do they need to stand out or be different from their competitors if they are well established? As long as the supporting marketing; images, messages and most importantly the products themselves are distinctively Burberry then what does it matter? Burberry should be judged on its products and how they make you feel, and from what I can see it all looks business as usual there.
At the end of the day a brand is about all aspects of your business in every level and in every detail, from the overall strategy, mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small. As long as Burberry are moving forward with the same passion and ethos that made them such an iconic brand to begin with I don’t think we have anything to worry about.