Burberry may have been established over 150 years ago, but there’s no doubt that their use of digital marketing has been exciting to watch in recent times. One of the most prestigious fashion brands in the world, Burberry has climbed completely on board with digital and embraced innovative marketing techniques blurring the boundary between its online environment and physical stores.
So what’s the return? Burberry has seen record sales, which are continually improving. Here at Parallax, we love Burberry. They’ve consistently brought out fantastic content and provide a huge source of inspiration to our digital agency. Let’s take a look at why their digital marketing and branding strategy is so good.
Putting The Brand In The Spotlight
Established in Basingstoke, England back in 1856, Burberry is a luxury fashion brand that’s rich in history and culture. Recognisable for its distinctive tartan pattern, the company sells clothing, fragrances, sunglasses and cosmetics. It was through the appointment of CEO Angela Ahrendts and Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey that Burberry began to see how digital was vital to the future success of the business. A decision that would change their business forever.
The first and most important thing that Burberry did was to identify their vision of where they wanted to take the brand. Back in 2006, Ahrendts and Bailey clearly stated “the vision was to be the first company who is fully digital” and that they wanted “to build a social enterprise”. Ahrendts also mentioned to the Harvard Business Review that “The number one strategy that came (from our first meeting) was all centred around the brand. We needed to purify the brand message and how we were going to do that; by focusing on outerwear, by focusing on digital, by targeting a younger consumer”.
Burberry put huge amounts of focus into perfecting their brand, with Ahrendts openly admitting how much she admired the flawless branding of companies such as Apple and Starbucks. Ensuring that the experience a consumer enjoyed whilst in a store in London needed to be exactly the same as it would be in New York City. It was essential that Burberry focussed on their key iconic assets, repositioning themselves as a luxury brand and moving away from creating products for the masses.
Creating A Digital Culture
Burberry hit the digital world hard. Whilst they took a while to launch across social networks, what they have done is nothing short of spectacular.
Technology is an intrinsic part of most people’s lives. All we’ve done is make sure to weave technology into the fabric of the company. This is how customers live, they wake up with a device in their hand and life begins.
Launching their Facebook page in 2009, Burberry were one of the first luxury brands to use the social networking giant and have now amassed a whopping 17 million followers. Using the page to share product campaigns, behind the scenes content, catwalk footage, company milestones, announcements and store openings; it’s an awesome page with an incredibly high rate of engagement. Facebook has become a place where fans of the brand can get a real connection with Burberry and get to hear from Christopher Bailey on a more personal level. Facebook forms a key part of their social activities, however they also have an impressive visibility across Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and of course, YouTube.
Twitter in particular has proved to be an important tool for Burberry’s digital marketing. Last year they launched @BurberryService, an official Twitter account for dealing with customer service enquiries that’s available a remarkable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Due to its success, the customer service Twitter account is also getting rolled out across a multitude of different international territories.
YouTube works especially well within their social digital marketing. Posting videos and playlists of different products and campaigns, music events, eyewear and behind the scenes footage, Burberry have created some fantastic unique content. With over 100,000 followers and hundreds of thousands of plays, it’s popularity is ever growing.
Unique Digital Content
Whilst Burberry may be a force to be reckoned with across social media, it’s their unique digital content that really is the talking point.
Art Of The Trench
One of the early digital campaigns that Burberry launched was the excellent ‘Art of the Trench’ microsite. The microsite was essentially an independent social networking website that allowed Burberry lovers to take pictures out on the street of the iconic trench coat and share them. Users can drag around their mouse around the page and see hundreds of different people wearing the coat, whilst listening to a soundtrack of up and coming artists. There’s also an option to filter the style of trench by colour, style and gender.
Sat within the main Burberry website, Acoustic showcases brand new music talent from across the United Kingdom. The Acoustic section of the website features bands and artists performing tracks acoustically wearing items from the latest Burberry collection. It’s a great way to promote the brand to a key target audience and encourage consumer discussion with the brand.
Personalisation has become an important factor throughout Burberry’s digital strategy, across both products and communications. Burberry Bespoke allows visitors to customise and purchase their own trench coat. Similar to how Nike use their ID service, Burberry allow users to change the colour, sleeves, lining, buttons, and even add a personalised monogram. Visitors can then buy it online instantly, request an appointment, live chat with customer service, or share their design across social media.
Burberry.com is one of the finest fashion websites on the internet. With a fantastic experience across all devices (especially on a 27” iMac!), clear user journeys, simple CTAs and gorgeous imagery, it’s a runaway success. The site itself has a navigation that links visitors to ecommerce, lookbooks, digital content such as Art of the Trench, Burberry Acoustic, and much more.
What’s really exciting about Burberry.com is how the brand have taken a similar experience and used it within their retail stores. Their flagship retail store on Regent Street in London is inspired by the site map of Burberry.com, with the layout and architecture mirroring that of the website. Floor space in the store is split between Bespoke, ‘ready-to-wear’, Acoustic and Experiences, similar to how they’re divided on Burberry.com.
The brand has also started embedding digital chips into products, which activate short films telling the story of its creation, including sketches and runway clips. When a consumer moves around the store, these chips react with mirrors causing them to turn into digital screens that display further digital content.
Bailey recently mentioned to GQ,
We had realised that we had created a lot of platforms that only exist online so we decided we had to bring these to life. Our approach to the store was to make a bridge between the online and offline experience. Today I think we’re less concerned about where we actually shop, and more concerned about the experience we have while we’re shopping.
Having The Right People In The Right Places
Creating brilliant digital campaigns and experiences for consumers was just the beginning for Burberry. In order to continue and build on their success, Burberry needed to have the right employees that shared the same vision as Ahrendts and Bailey. It became a necessity for the brand to hire employees that lived and breathed digital, and that had a complete understanding of where Burberry was headed.
70% of employees at Burberry’s headquarters in Westminster are now under 30 years old and according to Ahrendts are “fast, flexible, dynamic and open to change”. Employees are encouraged to sit and peruse social media whilst at work and both Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey regularly do webcasts for all members of staff, updating them of how the business is performing and what the latest objectives are. Burberry are focussing on creating excellent internal communication throughout the company in order to effectively connect the brand with employees.
Burberry’s continuing focus on digital has helped them to become one of the most popular and admired brands in the world. With an exceptional rise in sales, almost 14% higher than the rest of the luxury fashion market, consistent outperformance of competitors, and an incredible rise in stock value, Burberry is surpassing all targets. With their expansion into China including the flagship Shanghai store mirroring that of Regent Street, the future looks very bright for Burberry.