Great brands and great businesses have to be storytellers too ~ Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO
It’s no secret in the social sphere that Burberry are leading the way when it comes to high fashion digital marketing and are one of the most exciting brands to watch for innovative and personal campaigns. Burberry is a brand that has embraced social media from the get-go and Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey said they are now “as much a media content company as a design company”. For one that has a heritage lasting more than 150 years, they are surprisingly proving to be leaders as we head into the digital future.
Surprising because primarily Burberry are a retailer, however, they allocate the majority of their marketing budget (60%) to digital alone. If you’re measuring their ROI in terms of brand awareness, it is sure to be huge, but how does this company justify such as heavy digital investment when their focus is not on e-commerce but their 150 bricks and mortar stores worldwide? It may have something to do with Burberry’s “store of the future” and their social strategy, which is masterfully blurring the lines between physical and digital.
In 2012 Burberry opened its largest ever store on Regent street in London, amassing an impressive 44,000 square-foot space. Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey, announced the store as “one of the most architecturally and culturally significant projects we have undertaken”. Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts said, “Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website. It is Burberry World Live”. They call it a “future-proof store“ and as you can see below it is a powerful juxtaposition of their 150 year heritage and digital vision.
Burberry are a company that quite clearly understand the importance of speaking a digital language to a digital generation and have a list of successful campaigns to prove it. In 2009 Burberry launched their first major social campaign; the ‘Art of the Trench’, with the objective to increase brand awareness and deliver a high quality experience to users.
This campaign is user generated content at its simplest, fashion forward imagery of people in their iconic Burberry trench, popularised by a few key social influencers. Within six months of the launch the “Art of the Trench” had seven million views and six years later this campaign is still going strong on the Art of the Trench microsite.
The lesson here is that user generated content is still one of the most powerful ways to turn consumers into loyal brand advocates. This level of consumer trust is of paramount importance to CEO Angela Ahrendts, who understands that building a brand means “building a life long relationship with people and every great relationship has to be built on trust”. To earn the trust of a consumer, you need to connect with them personally, and this was a key driving objective in the launch of Burberry Acoustic.
Fashion and music may be two seemingly disparate ideas, however Burberry Acoustic is a prime example that sometimes combining these can be a great way to gain social traction and create something beautiful. Angela Ahrendts acknowledges that, “today everything we do has a music angle” and describes this campaign as “great brand behaviour in this youtube world”.
The campaign is made up of a short film series featuring emerging British musicians performing acoustic versions of their work, against a countryside setting, dressed head to toe in Burberry. Every Burberry acoustic act can be streamed worldwide into their 150 stores.
Not only does this campaign characterise Burberry as vocal supporters of music and local British talent, it encourages us to consider social from a different angle. Think about your brand’s overall message and emotions, how can they be successfully aligned with an event or activity to strengthen your brand image?
In the company’s most recent efforts to establish an emotional connection with consumers they launched the Burberry Kisses campaign in partnership with Google. This interactive digital campaign allows users to send letters to loved ones that are sealed with a virtual kiss.
This campaign is successful for a number of reasons, it build brand awareness of Burberry’s new cosmetics line, it strengthens an invaluable relationship with major corporation Google but primarily it is the emotional connection it promotes between people and thereby the brand that really sets it apart socially.
I don’t think the world is ever going to want to stop hearing stories.