For the MAMs in this class, this is a familiar corporation. Burberry, the quintessential trench coat maker, has suffered setbacks over the years thanks to a lack of corporate foresight and a loss of relevancy and brand image.
In the readings this week, I was reminded of the initial setback that Burberry faced. The readings also delved into the importance of creating a sound strategy based on particular elements of a strategic process. And that's what Burberry has done.
Forbes.com, in an article dated March 9, 2012, interviewed the new CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts about Burberry's current status as a haute couture name in the fashion world once again. How did they do it? How did Burberry become relevant to young people today—particularly millennials?
By taking innovation hand in hand with tradition. The Forbes article states that, "With a clear and authentic brand identity, Ahrendts has proven that tradition doesn’t preclude innovation but can actually drive it." Ahrendts didn't change Burberry's core purpose and vision, she actually used it to her advantage to create a brand that stands as a beacon for other companies struggling to find relevance in a world driven by social media and technology.
As Collins and Porras' article "Building Your Company's Vision" states, "core purpose is an organization's most fundamental reason for being." The same article in our reading develops purpose further by saying that "the very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress." Ahrendts recognized that, and built Burberry's image into something more than just the brand. She's been at the forefront of innovation and creativity, and yet she's preserved the core vision of Burberry—marketing innovation and product excellence.
Burberry has also delved deeply into social media, and has engaged millennials in a strong dialogue. As Forbes reports, the Burberry Facebook page has 11.2 million likes. If that isn’t a strategy success story, I don’t know what is!
The Burberry site is also cutting edge and fresh—and couples tradition with innovation. The history of Burberry is one entire section of the website, and there is ample information about Burberry’s current and future goals as well. Burberry under Ahrendts has managed to combine the impossible—and has preserved its vision and purpose along the way.
That's what I think our readings are really telling us—how to build a strategic plan, but also how to preserve the past sufficiently so that the company can emerge stronger than before; buoyed up by its past.
James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras. "Building Your Company's Vision." Harvard Business Review September-October 1996. Print.
Forbes, Moira. "Burberry CEO Proves Tradition Doesn't Prevent Innovation." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.