Greetings to all of my followers. In the past several weeks we have been investigating the renaissance of a fashion legend. In the past weeks we took a brief look at the problems that Burberry faced when the overhauling of the brand had begun. I introduced you to the key figures, key problems and solutions and approaches. By now you should know the name of person or two, and you should know a fact or two about how this great British brand was revived and brought back to the peak of modern fashion.
Today I want to take a look at one of the key elements that helped them transform into the business that they are nowadays. We are going to take a look at their corporate culture, with the help of their marvelously crafted communications, Burberry not only reinforced their culture, they built over it.
When, then the new manager, Angle Ahrendts took over she was surprised to see that none of the executives was wearing the Burberry trench coat. The coat that symbolizes the brand and it’s success, a coat that costs above 1000 euros. And why wouldn’t she be? When you are running a high-end fashion business and you see that even the employees are not buying the products with their corporate discounts, you know that something is going very wrong. The fact that no one was wearing the coat to their first meeting in London, a coat that is best suited for the grey British weather, told her that she is needs to handle a company that has lost it’s way. Imagine working for one of the most famous suit makers and none of your managers is wearing a suit produced by you. It is a disgrace. A company’s success starts from their employees,and no company can be successful if the employees do not believe in it and do not share the brand’s culture, mission and vision.
Then and there she new that, if this project is to succeed, they should get the essentials of the brand’s culture back together. They knew that their biggest asset is the great heritage that the brand had, this is a brand that had clothed British soldiers during the world wars, brand that had equipped polar expeditions, a brand that has been providing garments to the royal family for years.
Since those glorious days the brand’s focus had changed multiple times, ending up at a breaking point. When the brand rebuilding was about to start, the brand´s focus and culture was so biased, that only the memory of the great past had been left. The brand was totally decentralized and they looked nowhere near to the high end business that they represent today. The products were diverse, they were selling everything from do collars to caps, but they were not selling almost any of their coats. Since the coat was the product that got them famous it is most reasonable to have their focus on it, despite that they were focusing in all other kinds of products. Every bit of merchandise was labeled with the Burberry checkered pattern.
After brief analysis of their business the new CEO knew that they cannot progress if their business focus is not centralized, if their product list is not reduced and their culture reborn and reinforced. A luxury brand should not try to produce every kind of product, instead they should focus on a few things and get them going. So first all of the brand´s product line and shops were centralized, there was no more a different shop with a different product line in every city. The shops were all the same no matter if in Tokyo or London, the same was done with the products being sold in those shops. As you may see nowadays the brand is selling their coats (which are their main source of income) besides that they are selling clothes and perfumes. They have reduced their product list to high end garments only. The dog accessories, cheap caps and other random product are long gone.
After the centralization of the shops, products and design came the second part of the cultural reinforcement. Since the revamp had started every bit of Burberry´s communication has to carry the same message as the others: British, heritage, style, contemporary. The message is clear, it represents still the old fashioned British legend that Burberry was but it aims at a new target group. The brand focuses on the young people those who are 24/35 years old, those who are yet to make history. The people working a the company are obliged to represent the company, by wearing Burberry coats. As mentioned earlier, one business must be in tact with it´s values, mission, vision and culture and everyone working for that business should represent it with utmost dedication.
If you go to the company´s website or to it´s social media accounts you will easily recognize all the patterns of behavior that I just mentioned. You will see through their rhetoric ans symbolism the message that they want to send and the culture that they want to express. In my opinion Burberry has done a great job getting themselves back on track. Would you agree?