Rebranding Done Right: A Burberry Case Study

February 26, 2015

Filed under: Branding — Jane Hope @ 2:08 pm

Much ink has been spilled, in print and otherwise, on Burberry’s comeback from a supposedly mortal wound. The brand became inextricably linked with “chav culture”, a stereotype of the British working class that sent sales plummeting. Burberry had been a brand for the country aristocrat; inextricably tied with genteel pursuits. When Burberry decided to turn things around, they didn’t try to go back to the country house. They capitalized on their history to rebrand as a fashion-forward, upscale and glamorous brand that epitomized contemporary Britain.

In 2001, they had hired the gifted Christopher Bailey away from Gucci’s womenswear division. Bailey had been key to injecting sex appeal into a conservative brand, making Kate Moss the face of Burberry. Licensing its brands provided a cash injection, but opened the door to downmarket imitation. When Angela Ahrendts took over in 2008, the brand was in trouble.

Ahrendts said that one of her first jobs was to take back control of Burberry’s intellectual property. However, simply removing the check from dog beds wasn’t sufficient; Burberry needed a new story. Burberry’s decisions were motivated by an intimate understanding of their market. The luxury brand’s customers are now increasingly based overseas; Asia is a growing market. Burberry couldn’t return to the country house. They needed to tell their audience how they were moving forward. (more…)

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