Earlier this week Burberry announced they were ditching their 2018, Peter Saville designed, Sans-Serif wordmark. And instead replacing it with a new logo that greater reflects their heritage. Burberry recently named Daniel Lee as their new Creative Director, starting his tenure by bringing the brand back to its roots with a new logo.
Burberry, along with many other fashion brands, have been mocked in recent years for the ‘sans-serification’ of their logos. This trend seems to have swept across the industry, persuading brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain, Rains and Balmain – all converting their unique and expressive logos, for minimal, bold, sans-serif marks. The trend of swapping out more detailed or serif logos has also be seen in big tech brands such as Google, Spotify and Facebook.
Whilst one could argue it makes more sense for tech companies to update their logos to san-serif typefaces, reflecting the cutting edge and faceless platforms and products they provide us with – does it make sense for fashion houses to follow this trend? And are Burberry now benefiting from bucking the trend?
When it comes to a logo and identity for your brand, it’s important to think about what you stand for, what you want to reflect, and what makes you stand out compared to other brands on the market. It appears what Daniel Lee is trying to get across to consumers with this updated logo, is that the brand has heritage and a story, yes – but it’s also contemporary and forward-thinking. You can see this in their use of colour, range of models and the interesting mix of photography and art direction. So, when we think about their brand values and vision, it’s not just the serif typography that gets across who they are and what they associate themselves with. But the re-inclusion of the Equestrian Knight icon (featured on the very first Burberry logo in 1901) that helps to hammer home to the consumer just what Burberry is. It’s a mixture of iconic heritage with contemporary application – reflecting the new direction of Burberry succinctly and efficiently.
Burberry also updated their colour palette, ditching the famous red, white and beige and opting for a pairing of off-white and bright blue. I think this is a good evolvement – whilst the Blue is bright, and some would argue more focused on digital use, it helps to balance out the elements of heritage and history that are found within the new logo and the equestrian knight. It’s also very clean classic – and most importantly, very adaptable.
What this identity refresh appears to do is reposition Burberry away from the other fashion brands that have chosen to go for sans-serif, bold, typefaces – like they themselves did in 2018. It instead allows the consumer to understand very quickly what Burberry is about, and how most importantly, it differs to the likes of Balmain and Berluti. And whilst the 2018 logo was only around for four and a half years, they recognised a need for change, making it clearer what and who Burberry are and who they want to appeal to.
Speaking to British Vogue a few months ago, Daniel Lee noted how Burberry “flies the flag for Britishness and the UK, and for culture” and he hoped that people would look at this new vision for Burberry and say “Oh, yeah, this makes sense: This is what Burberry should be.’”
We’ll have to wait and see how other fashion brands react to Burberry’s new vision – but now might be a good time to consider what your brand values are and look at whether your logo and identity truly reflect them. Do they appeal to your current audience and the consumers that you want to attract? Whether you’re a start up or, or an established business – it’s always worth asking this question, and revisiting it, periodically.
It’s worth noting that Yves Saint Laurent have been using their old logo, albeit dropping ‘Yves’. On a closer inspection it appears the sans-serif logo (first used in 2012) is only used on their ‘Ready To Wear’ collection – and the traditional logo is used when on the runway. This might seem confusing, but then again, it’s not unlike a fashion brand to create a complicated brand structure.
It’s currently very easy to notice the huge wave of brands who are pairing a nice sans-serif font with an abstract logo mark. You can see many examples of these sorts of rebrands when you stumble across the likes of Pinterest, Behance, and Dribbble. What’s worth noting is the range of sectors all of the brands below cover and that all of these rebrands and logo updates have been completed within the last year or two. Maybe it’s a case of brands wanting to reflect or catch up to the super-fast development of technology, service-based industries and the rise of technology companies. Or simply, is it brands making sure they follow the crowd, not being left behind in the eyes of their customers?
You’d like to imagine that the route of this trend can be attributed to the greater influx of fully digital brands and web3 businesses, the accessibility of design software and inspiration, never greater than now, or clients and designers not wanting to be seen to be seen as growing alongside technology and the way that brands are now consumed.
I’m not saying that the likes of Cardless, Sileon and Depict don’t have reasons for rebranding in the way they have – a lot of brands want to reflect a hi-tech, scalable and modern approach through their brand. But I think some brands should try and focus on the core of what they do and who they are, rather than jumping straight to an abstract mark, trying to be the next Apple. The main reason for developing or refreshing your identity should always be to reflect who you are and what you do.
I predict there will be an incoming wave of brands and identities that will further appreciate the finer details of their brand, typography and iconography. Rather than designers reluctantly opening up font book and selecting the likes of Helvetica, Akzidenz-Grotesque and Medium. We can already see brands wanting to hold onto heritage and history when rebranding, with the likes of RHS and Guinness hanging on to, or even reinstating, the detail they once had in their logos.
It could also be that with the global rise of consumerism leading to the likes of fast-fashion, many are starting to appreciate detail, personality, craft, consciousness and transparency in their favourite brands – rather than faceless companies that lack personality and honesty. Whatever the real reasons, my hope is the brands which value these transparent traits are able to stand out, grow and become more successful.
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