Is Victoria’s Secret Too Sexy? Yes.

In an article called Victoria’s Secret gets ‘too sexy’ in yesterday’s LA Times, Victoria’s Secret Chief Executive Sharen J. Turney said:

“We have moved off of our brand heritage… We use the word ‘sexy’ a lot and really have forgotten the ultra-feminine.”

Also according to Turner, the brand’s original story line was of a to-the-manner-born Londoner named Victoria whose lacy underthings, we assume, were her little secret. But in recent years, Victoria became known as simply “Vicky,” and she had no qualms about flaunting her sex appeal.

My take: It’s very easy for a brand to drift away from its core essence. For Victoria’s Secret, it was a relatively minor shift from “ultra-feminine” to “sexy.” But those shifts can cause enormous problems as target customers also drift away from the brand.

Every large company has a formal strategic planning process, but not many have a formal brand evaluation process. Firms need to evaluate their brands every 12 to 24 months and address the following questions: What perception do target customers have of our brand? How is our brand being communicated? What do we want our brand to stand for? What should we do to get our brand back on track?

The bottom line: Don’t let your brand drift off the mark — even if it gets sexier.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

4 thoughts on “Is Victoria’s Secret Too Sexy? Yes.”

  1. But at the same time, it is ironic that Victoria’s secret is taking this approach, when the sole reason it went from a small company to an international super brand is because it emphasized its sex appeal. By going from “ultra-feminine” to “sexy,” it became a buzzword for lingerie for both women AND men, allowing it to penetrate the national consciousness in a way that the conservative version could not.

    I agree that it is smart to redirect the brand to a less sexual tone to appeal more to women, but the brand is what it is because it got sexy.

  2. David: Excellent point! Sometimes a shift in brand isn’t a bad thing. “Sexy” might have been the right positioning For Victoria’s Secret at some point in time. So firms need to evaluate their brands regularly; not to keep them stagnant, but to make sure that they are appropriate at that point in time.

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