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 an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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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