But with the British fashion house seeking to redefine its image and boost its appeal among a new generation of consumers, relying only on design and creativity won’t be enough — it’ll be critical for Burberry to create a clear and compelling brand narrative that resonates with its target demographic.
Rooting for change
Burberry’s new visual identity, introduced earlier in February, takes the brand back to its roots and is a U-turn from the direction of former chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, whose tenure ended in September last year.
The house’s Fall collection fused the brand’s English roots and check pattern with disruptive elements like bags and coats featuring faux fox fur.
However, in a world where cultural capital drives desirability and creates brand equity, focusing wholly on the brand’s Britishness will not be enough.
Building cultural capital requires brands to be crystal clear on their storytelling, while creating a brand identity, especially for Gen-Z consumers, depends on cultivating emotional connections with audiences.
With Lee at the helm, Burberry has an opportunity to craft a narrative that both celebrates its heritage and showcases its relevance in the contemporary fashion landscape.
While Burberry has a storied history and a recognizable aesthetic, luxury brands must constantly evolve and innovate to stay relevant. Therefore, focusing too heavily on nostalgia or traditionalism is ill-advised.
Luxury is about constant reinvention and staying relevant, not just heritage or craftsmanship.
Thus, while embracing Lee’s bold and progressive vision, Burberry would do well to ensure that its core values and identity remain intact, and develop full clarity on its emotional foundations.
Sustainability is an area of significant potential for Burberry — it’s not only a moral imperative, but also a strategic advantage for purveyors of luxury, if done well.
As consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical practices from the brands they admire, Burberry has an opportunity to differentiate itself by becoming a leader in this area.
To achieve this, Lee and his team should prioritize sustainability across all aspects of Burberry’s operations, from sourcing materials and manufacturing processes to packaging and distribution, and make the impact measurable.
Overall, Burberry needs to balance tradition with innovation, tell a compelling brand story (beyond just being British), and embrace sustainability as a key differentiator. Then the brand could move beyond its multi-year struggle that’s seen it lag competitors and initiate a long-term systematic brand building process, rather than create short-term hype.
Lee’s debut was strong — now the brand’s foundations need to be bolstered.
This is an opinion piece where all views expressed belong to the author.
Named one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch,” Daniel Langer is the CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults many of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several best-selling luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses on the future of luxury, disruption, and the luxury metaverse in Europe, the USA, and Asia.
Follow him: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drlanger, Instagram: @equitebrands /@thedaniellanger