The rebranding of Victoria's Secret

By Tom Dougherty

What can we learn from the rebranding of Victoria’s Secret?

I just finished an article on the rebranding of Victoria’s Secret in the New York Times. I wish them luck in the rebranding efforts. It was not that many years ago they were the hottest retailer.

rebranding of Victoria's Secret

The Victoria’s Secret brand had cache. It was sexy, a little naughty, and very much in vogue. I’m sure you remember the ads. Sexy and stylish with body types that were very much in favor at the time.

So why the rebranding of Victoria’s Secret? They slipped, and they are looking for a turnaround.


Victoria’s Secret is smart

rebranding of Victoria's SecretIt makes sense to me that they should reposition the brand. But I’m a brand guy. What would you expect me to0 say? Go to a surgeon, and you can expect surgery as the recommendation.

Funny thing, there are similarities between the two professions— rebranding and surgery. We both victoria's secretmake a living trimming away spare parts. Cut away too much as a surgeon, and the patient dies. Trim the wrong parts in rebranding, and the brand dies.

According to the article, on the rebranding of Victoria’s Secret, they believe their brand imagery is behind the times. They are not planning on changing what they sell. I don’t think they will change their logo. They are hoping to redefine what it means to be sexy.

There is much I admire in their strategy

They are looking for emotional density in the messaging. They want to reposition the brand and make it more relevant.

victoria's secretMany times, in rebranding, Stealing Share looks to create a new emotional intensity. We rebrand by defining a value different than the norm. In all instances, we position a brand to reflect the beliefs of the target audience.

The reporters Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman write—

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” said Martin Waters, the former head of Victoria’s Secret’s international business who was appointed chief executive of the brand in February. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

This part of the rebranding is the scary part

victoria's secretWe conduct broad research during a rebranding project to enlighten us on what the target market believes to be true. The article implies that the old version of Victoria’s Secret reinforced stereotypes.

And the quote above states that the imagery was what men want and not what women genuinely seek.

Deep breath. We have found that political correctness seeps into research results. Respondents often parrot victoria's secretwhat they think is the right thing to say. As a result of this bias, we try to find the difference between the true north and the magnetic north that a compass identifies.

A few degrees off, and you end up with quite a hike from where you landed and where you intended to land. So, we also ask questions that are around the topic as well as the central theme. We are looking for consistency of belief.

Our anthropological behavioral model links the beliefs we hold as individuals than the needs and wants that the belief created. When we see inconsistency— it raises a red flag. It is what we call brand anthropology.

The rebranding of Victoria’s Secret might be correct

However, I worry that they might be wrong too. I find it a bit naïve to think that a women’s sense of self is the image men project. I have more respect than that for women.

I think there is a difference between political correctness values and our sense of self.

The brand’s we buy are not about showing off

victoria's secretMany marketers think we purchase things to show off to others. That is not my experience. I have found that we are buying and prefer brands that with which we identify.

The preference is not for the appreciation of others. Brand preference is to reinforce what we believe to be true about ourselves.

victoria's secretWe look to eliminate conflicts between actions and causal belief. Selection is not about proving something to others; it is about proving it to ourselves.

I would hope that Victoria’s Secret has discovered that a politically correct idea has indeed become a root precept.

If women in their top-secret preceptual (a word we created from the root PRECEPT) fiber have the only aspiration to be inclusive rather than societal pressures to be sexy— they nailed it.

But they could be wrong

victoria's secret Nowhere is the idea of personal than women’s undergarments. You choose what you wear because it makes you feel good wearing it—showing off? Nope. If so, it is only to your significant other.

I am not sure Vitoria’s Secret needed a total rebrand. I think they simply got lazy and failed to protect and defend their mind-space with customers.

victoria's secretThe real tell in this story is about the rise in competition… and the permanent changes in how we all shop retail.

Will aspiring to be young, fit, and attractive give way to embracing other body types? That’s the big question here. Happiness comes from celebrating and embracing our bodies. But that might be different from aspiring to be different.

Read a market study on retail