I have a confession to make:
I still really like old Burberry. In fact, I actually prefer it.
I know, I know. The iconic plaid print eventually became synonymous with cheap replicas, but in my opinion, Burberry’s old school “chav check” (sorry for the pejorative term; I’m quoting others) actually did more for the brand than its rebrand has.
When I used to look at Burberry pre-2011, I used to think about how uniquely British it felt. Everything about its clean silhouettes and weatherproof fabric gave an outdoorsy old money feel, and the check print was interesting enough to look at without appearing too busy or distracting. Also, the brand’s use of neutral colors felt quiet and calming, like having a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It was a vibe that this introvert could really get behind.
Now when I look at Burberry, I feel neither fondness nor displeasure; I just don’t know exactly what I’m looking at. What happened?
Out With The Old, In With The New
Like other fashion houses with famous patterns and monograms, Burberry’s popularity eventually began to cause problems for the company when it became one of the world’s most counterfeited brands.
The knockoff market ran rampant in the early to mid-2000s, and customers’ change in perception caused a slow decline marked by a forgotten heritage and a print that’d become a bit vulgar and passé.
Burberry execs took many steps to combat the replicas and preserve exclusivity (including controversial ones like burning unsold stock,) but they also took notice of the changing demographics of interested consumers.
No longer wanting to be seen as overly mature or stuffy, Burberry basically said, “eh, why fight it?” and leaned into producing things they thought younger crowds desired.
TB: Too Bad I Don’t Know What This is
The first time I ever saw the TB logo was at a shop in an airport. I saw a brightly-lit store with a colorful selection of stuff and decided to go in to kill some time.
As I entered, I innocently thought to myself, “Is this Tory Burch? Tommy Bahama? Oh wait, it’s a new brand. How interesting.”
I then browsed around for what felt like forever until I realized I was actually inside a Burberry store!
Who knows, maybe I was jet-lagged or overdue for a trip to the optometrist or had gone overboard with free drink vouchers; Whatever it was, I knew that rebranding in a way that customers couldn’t immediately recognize the brand was risky business in the marketing world.
Don’t Lose Yourself on The Way Forward
Once I realized I was indeed looking at Burberry’s rebrand, I could only think two things: that I completely understood why the brand decided to switch it up and that it was way off the mark.
The brand had indeed been suffering, but its new look had nothing that made me remember its roots.
Instead of finding a way to keep its distinct look and adapting to the tastes of a younger crowd the way Louis Vuitton has, Burberry did a complete 180° and shed most of its signature design elements in the process.
And all I could see from then on out was a once-beloved brand saying, “please don’t forget about me.”
Craving the Classics
Unfortunately, I still have the same reaction four years later, but not without my lack of trying to change it.
Burberry’s old look and feel were just so cool. How could I forget it?
I’m sure many of you may disagree, but as lame as my Burberry check bag might be, it’s still going strong.