A proud time in the early days of Hagopian Ink was working with Burberry as an ongoing client — a legendary luxury brand that meticulously curated every detail of their image. We worked for several years creating their early emails and banner ads, (above) along with revising their web concepts. We appreciated their keen eye for photography, brand standards and refined style.
So when I first laid eyes on the new Burberry logo — their first update in over 20 years — I was a bit shocked.
The century-old “equestrian knight” emblem and the elegant serif letterforms that stood for British refinement for decades were completely obliterated.
My heart sank, not only because the new logo lacked the heritage brand elements, but also because it reinforced the “minimalist” trend that seems to be sweeping the luxury brand industry like a Roomba on steroids.
I looked to my peers, former colleagues, and favorite design industry bloggers to ascertain what their take was on this new logo — and was not surprised to find similar sentiment among the majority of them.
“I hate it. It’s too drastic and cheap looking,” said the former Consulting Director of eCommerce, Burberry.
“It made me really sad that they didn’t keep the essence,” I replied.
“It looks like it was created in Microsoft Word,” said AdWeek’s David Griner.
In spite of this shared disappointment with the growing trend to modernize (and simplify) the logo of many heritage brands, I DID discover some compelling business reasons to make this change. It opened my eyes to some of the current trends and challenges of the luxury industry.
And that’s what I’d like to share with you today: the Hagopian Ink take on the Burberry logo update, along with some insight on how this shift came to be — and why it’s worth seriously considering.
OBSERVATION #1: DESIRE TO APPEAL TO MILLENNIALS
According to a recent report on the luxury goods market by Bain & Co., Millenials and Generation Z will account for 45% of the global personal luxury goods market by 2025. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millenials already outnumber Baby Boomers.
This demographic shift has put pressure on luxury brands to adapt what was traditionally a culture of exclusion (where access to luxury goods was limited and brand communication with consumers was reserved and detached) to a culture of collaboration and transparency.
Burberry’s new Chief Creative Officer, Riccardo Tisci, has proven to be quite gifted at navigating this shift. Prior to Burberry, Tisci spent 12 years at Givenchy, where he created a new visual language favored by pop culture icons like Beyonce and Madonna, spearheaded the trend for luxury athletic-wear, and transformed the luxury label into a 21st century fashion powerhouse.
Recently, Burberry announced a collaboration with Vivienne Westwood on a capsule collection — part of a larger strategy to shift to a more frequent, smaller delivery cycle in an effort to keep their younger customers more engaged.
“If we deliver the full collection right away, you come to the store, see the whole collection and then you don’t really have a reason to come again, unless we can deliver something new. We just need to keep the customer’s attention and keep them engaged with us.”
— Burberry CEO, Marco Gobbetti
Both the logo redesign and the new go-to-market strategy reflect a conscious effort to appeal to the first generation to ‘grow up digital’ — and whose perception of time has been shaped by the speed of the Internet where everything is “one-click away” 24/7.
OBSERVATION #2: DESIRE TO BALANCE HERITAGE WITH MODERNITY
Alongside the new logo, Burberry unveiled a new monogram print featuring interlocking T’s and B’s (for the brand’s founder, Thomas Burberry).
To me, this move reflects the brand’s effort to bridge the gap between the past and the future — and to mark the present as a new era in Burberry’s history. And if I take my “designer” hat off for a moment and put on my “entrepreneur/business owner” beret, I come to this conclusion:
The new logo signals to Millenials that Burberry may be 150 years old, but they’re not 150 years old. And the new monogram print, — much like the “reimagined trench coat” — signals to everyone else that they’re not trashing their heritage — they’re making a conscious effort to modernize it.
OBSERVATION #3: MOVE TOWARD LESS EXCLUSION + MORE COLLABORATION
“Since the 1950s, there was a clear and predominant definition what an ‘aspirational life’ looks like,” explains Claudia D’Arpizio, one of the lead authors in Bain & Co’s recent study of the luxury goods market.
“Getting a degree from a leading institution, getting a highly regarded and rewarded career, getting married and having kids by a certain age, and eventually becoming wealthier than your family of origin. This was also reflected on consumption models, to the extent to which products were a way to testify the passage across life stages and achievements.”
This holds true for my generation and many of Hagopian Ink’s clients — but we can’t ignore the fact that younger generations (and Millenials, in particular) see things quite differently.
In D’Arpizio’s words: “[Millenials] are the first generation to approach adult life in less favorable economic conditions than their parents… They are also part of the digital revolution, which leads to a different perception of ‘time,’ ‘space’ and ‘possibilities.’ Everything is possible, here and now.”
In other words, there’s a legitimate business imperative to buck traditional luxury branding and marketing “habits” (i.e., focusing on heritage and history; applying the ‘black box’ approach to product design and marketing strategy; and putting the brand on a pedestal above all else) — in favor of a more transparent, collaborative approach.
In fact, it appears that’s exactly how Riccardo Tisci envisioned the redesign of the Burberry logo. Specifically:
- He chose Peter Saville, a graphic designer know for his work with Joy Division and New Order, to create the new logo.
- He gave him four weeks (that’s right — FOUR WEEKS — not four months) to complete the project.
- And he (Tisci) released the entire email thread between himself and Saville which details the inspiration/thinking behind the monogram and the overall aesthetic.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m betting that when it comes to refreshing iconic brands like Burberry — we ain’t seen nothing yet.