Burberry has gone back to the future perhaps bringing history and legacy to the forefront over the clinical sameness seen earlier
After the British company unveiled a new logo and a new campaign pi featuring new brand ambassadors, it signified Daniel Lee’s tenure as Burberry’s creative director.
The previous logo, designed by the legendary British designer Peter Savile, was introduced just four years ago. It was minimalist, sans-serif, and appropriate for a tech company. The new typeface might signal a change in contemporary luxury branding as a whole.
A luxury brand’s logo used to be quite ornate, with plenty of swirls and flourishes representing tradition, heritage, history, and legacy. In recent years, however, many luxury brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Balmain, and Calvin Klein, have abandoned their classic logos in favour of simpler and cleaner ones like the tech companies. Unfortunately, they also began to resemble each other.
Riccardo Tisci, former creative director of Burberry, favoured a more functional look for the brand’s logo. The company required a logo that would look good on the inside of a shirt as well as a scarf. That’s probably how he got to this point of near-homogeneity.
Most logos, particularly those of luxury brands nowadays, aren’t limited to a single item. They may be seen everywhere, from clothing and accessories to websites and home goods to the Instagram feeds of influential people online, and they must be readable and distinguishable across all platforms. Less ornamentation is preferable.
Earlier, Lee had said “Burberry flies the flag for Britishness and the UK and culture. So we must use our platforms to communicate those things because we have a responsibility to do so.”
There are, however, two major changes from the Lee period that are visible. The first is the introduction of the equestrian knight once again as part of the brand’s identity. While the horse logo was designed in 1901, it was retired in 2018 when creative director Riccardo Tisci replaced it with a “TB” monogram in honour of company founder Thomas Burberry.
The knight carries the second piece of information: on his banner, it reads “Prorsum,” (Latin for “forwards”) and the name of a diffusion line that became a Burberry hallmark. In 2015, Burberry Prorsum was merged into the main range, but it seems that Lee is paying homage to the brand’s past.
It puzzles me that some luxury brands have followed this trend towards a plain typeface with nothing unusual to scream about. I can see that the need to make things clear on smaller screens (especially digital ones) and our growing desire for simplicity are both factors.
In general, I approve of the new logo. In light of the current craze for sans-serif fonts, the switch to serif is very much appreciated. It’s fantastic that they’ve revived such an intricate symbol.
Most modern designs are made to be as adaptable as possible, but the new Burberry logo strikes the perfect balance between adaptability and style.
By adopting a new brand identity, Burberry honours its past while simultaneously looking to the future. The fact that this rebranding incorporates two widely-observed developments in the market makes it all the more intriguing. The one is a powerful yearning for the past, while the second is an ever-present want to move with the cultural times.
There is a correlation between social unrest and a need for the familiar, which is why nostalgia can be such a powerful emotional response to tense times. So, it’s not surprising that some of the most praised rebrandings of late take their ideas from times that were thought to be “simpler.”
Popular companies like Burberry have to adapt quickly to the speed at which society changes. It may be expected that the rate of evolution will quicken in the years ahead. In a nutshell, the time has never been more appropriate for Burberry to capitalise on its history.
The new serif design gives Burberry a more unique look, and by bringing back the company’s mascot, the knight on a horse, they’ve embraced the brand’s traditional traits: imperial Britishness, opulent attention to detail, and a spirit of independence.