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What Would Burberry Be Without Its Tartan Plaid?
By: Cindy Wendland
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Imagine if Burberry hired a new advertising agency who recommended that they retire the familiar tartan plaid and go with something more progressive. Burberry changes all their coat linings, handbag patterns, sunglass temple arms, scarves, and clothing. They introduce a series of stripes and polka dots and go to market. The public becomes confused and Burberry’s branding flounders all because of a pattern change. Could it happen? Absolutely, when their brand is as much about styling and quality as it is about their distinctive plaid.

This is only a hypothetical situation. We can’t imagine a situation where Burberry would depart from their most recognized pattern. The Burberry name is synonymous with that plaid. Without it, Burberry wouldn’t be the same. What is amazing is that this pattern is trademarked. It is recognized globally. Sure, logos and designs are recognized in branding, but to have colors and the arrangement of lines and spaces on fabric be your brand is remarkable. 

Others have tried to copy Burberry, but it is no use. Burberry is a luxury brand from London that has remained at the climax of fashion since its inception in 1856. The tartan plaid is one of Burberry’s strengths. Burberry is not an old-fashioned house, however. They have led the way in digital marketing and acquiring younger customers. Over 70% of their corporate staff is under 30 and encouraged to be on social media throughout the day. The misnomer is that only “older” consumers can shop Burberry. The reality is that consumers of all ages find Burberry’s plaid inviting and appealing. 

While plaid may be the product focus, the marketing focus is blurring physical and digital worlds. Burberry targets the Millennials. Here we go again with incorporating music into the branding experience, since Millennials are involved. Burberry could have died a slow death if they had not shifted to being a content creator and adeptly understanding digital. They were wise to keep their tartan plaid heritage and build from there. Burberry kept the old (tartan plaid) and embraced the new (digital marketing) and now enjoys one of the strongest positions in fashion today.

   

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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