Sunday, 22 February 2015

Burberry and the Power of Self Control

Not that kind of self-control. But sort of.

What’s impressive about Burberry is a pair of simple facts. In the 1990s, Burberry was in the shit. Burberry was the fashion of criminals. And not even classy criminals (heaven forbid).

Today, Burberry is one of the most valuable brands in the world.

What happened?

A lot of things happened. Rebranding. Reworking. Rethinking. Refashioning. A million things happened. But the crowning point, the real change, was self-control.

What does that mean? It means, simply, that someone saw what the situation at Burberry was, and had a single minded vision on how to change it. That someone was Christopher Bailey.

And in a lot of ways, what he had in mind to change things is not the important part of the story. The important part is the fact that things changed.

If you read this blog for any length of time you’ll find that the most important point of any brand transformation is not the transformative idea, but the transformative person. Why? Because much though it should be the other way around, transformative ideas are ten-a-penny. Transformative people are the real rarity. Transformative people are those who can find and identify and implement transformative ideas. That is what changes the fortunes of a brand.

Now. Is Bailey a genius of advertising? Perhaps. Perhaps not. At this point we may as well say he is. Sometimes bloody minded optimism is a substitute for advertising genius regardless of what you’re selling.

And what is really exceptional about Bailey is not what he sold, or how he sold it, but how he sold the reselling. That’s not a good turn of phrase, but it is accurate.

He committed to a remaking of the brand. He didn’t attempt to claw onto Burberry caps, to be a brand for every person, to have a thousand faces, to please every punter. He took Burberry, and cut away the extraneous.

And it worked.

Not because of advertising genius. Because of bloody-mindedness. Because quite often, having a plan and sticking to it is as important as the plan itself.

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