From Basingstoke shop window to global megabrand: Thomas Burberry travels into the future with The Oracle of SEO Hampshire
Did you know that the famous Burberry brand originated in Basingstoke? Imagine if founder Thomas Burberry had to sell his famous gabardine overcoats today. He might need a lesson or two on how to use SEO in Hampshire.
Picture the scene…
Winchester Road, Basingstoke, 1856. A young Thomas Burberry, former draper’s apprentice, is carrying out his daily duties in his shop, T. Burberry & Sons Limited. The bell above the door jingles and he looks up from his dusty box of scissors, threads and tape measures. A gentleman has come in from the autumn rain to enquire about an overcoat in this new ‘gabardine’ fabric he’s been admiring in the shop window.
Now consider this…
Burberry is heading home to The Shrubbery on Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke, at the end of that same day. An oracle appears, able to magically fast-forward him 160 years in to the future; into the Basingstoke living room of that customer’s great, great, granddaughter. What scene do we picture now?
“I am the Oracle of SEO Hampshire,” a mystical voice says. “I am here to foretell, young Burberry, how word of your new gabardine overcoat will spread to the people of 2016. The lady in this futuristic living room here is in fact shopping for one of your overcoats.”
The lady has half an eye on a later incarnation of the gabardine overcoat on her tablet, with the other half on her smartphone, and the other eye on the TV.
“Are you sure? But where is the shop window, oh wise Oracle of SEO Hampshire?” Burberry replies. “All I see here in this lady’s house are strange gadgets with lights! And that’s a very odd name you have, by the way.”
Always representing the pioneering spirit, in the 160 years since Burberry introduced the waterproof gabardine fabric, the company became the outfitters for Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who was the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led an expedition to cross Antarctica in 1914. A Burberry gabardine jacket was also worn by George Mallory on his attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1924.
When the War Office commissioned Burberry to adapt its officer’s coat to endure modern warfare, the ‘trench coat’ was born. Legends of the silver screen such as Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Peter Sellers then turned the Burberry trench into a true style icon. Even the early-noughties associations between so-called ‘chav-culture’ and the Burberry check design have ultimately done little to quash its timeless, luxury appeal.
Not bad for a little shop from Basingstoke! Now, let’s cut back to the scene…
“You see those gadgets she is shopping with? They’re known as mobiles and tablets,” the Oracle of SEO Hampshire goes on to explain.
“I think I need to take my tablets,” Burberry sighs.
“In 2016, customers use these gadgets to search the internet for things they need to buy, like overcoats,” the Oracle of SEO Hampshire says.
“The what? The internet? Oracle, you may as well be barking like a dog. I can’t understand this odd language you are speaking!” Burberry exclaims.
“Perhaps it might help you to imagine the internet like a gigantic warehouse filled with overcoats,” says the Oracle of SEO Hampshire. “What the overcoat makers of 2016 have to do is make sure that the overcoat they want to sell is displayed in the window, right where the customer is looking for it.”
“Using their strange gadgets? Like binoculars?” Burberry asks.
“Yes, kind of,” Oracle replies. “Actually, the customer types the name of the overcoat they’re after into their strange gadget and a search engine finds what they’re looking for. Then the overcoat appears in the window. However, the search engine can only do this if it can identify it in the warehouse as the closest match for the customer’s query. That’s called search engine optimisation, or SEO!”
“So, that’s why you’re called the Oracle of SEO Hampshire,” nods Burberry. “Well, thanks for explaining but this all sounds like a lot of hard work. Surely it would be easier just to hang the overcoat up on a shop mannequin on a busy Saturday morning on Winchester Road, like I do now.”
“But the internet means that you can sell your overcoat to people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So you can sell hundreds of overcoats every month, maybe even thousands. In 2016, Burberry made over £650 million pounds and they have just announced a 30% leap in UK sales driven by tourists flocking to Britain to take advantage of the weak pound! Luckily you’ve got over 11,000 employees to help sell them. And that search engine of course.”
“Phew, that’s a lot of overcoats,” says Burberry. “I better get back to my shop!”
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