How Burberry Became Fashion’s Most Digitally Forward Brand

BurberryBurberry is probably best known for its checkered pattern — a tried and true classic. Originally founded as an outdoor attire store, today Burberry is one of the leading British brands in the world. It’s also one of the most digitally innovative luxury brands with a robust digital presence and millions of followers on social networks like Facebook and YouTube.

According to conventional wisdom, luxury brands had no place in social media. Social media broke down walls, allowing anyone from anywhere to connect. Luxury brands market themselves as exclusive, something only insiders with status can obtain. In other words, the two didn’t seem compatible.

Luxury marketing is primarily about creating an aspirational experience; by buying that luxury item, you’re that much closer to achieving that lifestyle that it represents. By making the luxury brand accessible to the masses, are you diluting its appeal?

Burberry doesn’t seem to think so. The brand has over 14 million Facebook fans, over 1.5 million Twitter followers, and large followings on Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. And, it’s been exceptionally savvy in its use of digital marketing. It was the first major fashion brand to provide an exclusive glimpse of its runway looks on Twitter, partnering with the social network to debut a Tweetwalk that gave followers a peek into runway looks–before the A-list celebrities and editors sitting in the front-row of its fashion show. That’s how you can still give your followers that special, insider feel on social media: give them a reason to follow and provide something unique that they can’t get anywhere else.

I also love Burberry’s microsite Art of the Trench. Burberry sums up the site as “a living celebration of the Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it.” Along with the tartan pattern, Burberry is synonymous with the trench coat. On the site, “you are invited to submit images of yourself and friends wearing the Burberry trench coat either by uploading directing to Art of the Trench or posting from your iPhone Instagram app.” Launching a microsite dedicated to this iconic piece of clothing and capitalizing on the street style trend is so smart and savvy. Again, you’re creating a community of engaged, like-minded people who all share something in common and are passionate about it. This really deftly captures the power of social media and how it can be used to turn your fans into brand advocates.

Burberry Art of the Trench

Burberry’s Art of the Trench gives Burberry lovers an online portal to share how they wear the iconic coat.

So, all this stuff that Burberry is doing on the web and in social networks is cool and awesome, but does it translate to dollars and revenue? Well, Burberry has had annual sales reaching upwards of $3 billion–more than double the numbers reached in 2007 before Burberry’s aggressive digital push.

Luxury brands scared of getting into social media can take a page or two from Burberry’s playbook in how to smartly use social media to reinforce the brand and bring customers more closer to it.

Images courtesy of Burberry

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