Case Study: Victoria's Secret.

Have you heard the news? The show is officially cancelled. All of us aspiring angels are obviously devastated but this is clearly a defining moment for the company. We are at the crux of a tumultuous period which could make or break the brand that familiarized many of us with sex appeal. Let’s spill some tea!

It you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that body positivity is having its moment right now. People are learning to be comfortable in their skin and more accepting of people who don’t look like them. It’s been great for the public at large, but VS...not so much. Victoria’s Secret has built its empire as the epitome of sexy; unfortunately that standard is inherently unattainable and no longer jives with the public’s new desire for the democratization of sexy; even worse the numbers show it. Victoria’s Secret has been losing money for a while and now its fashion show is a no-go. There’s blood in the water. Even more concerning is the legacy of the Victoria’s Secret brand. You know we are all about building brands — but the VS empire has built themselves in a way that is so uncompromising that it may be their demise.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

The C-Suite at Sexy inc. (if only that were us) has two clear options: Do. They could change. This would require a complete restructuring of their brand. The executives would have to come out apologizing for past statement about plus sized and trans women, they’d have to explain why they think it’s important to recognize every body as sexy, they’d have to change their entire product line. We’re talking full makeover here.

Or, they Don’t. They hold on to the brand identity that they’ve already spent decades crafting, they lean in to their definition of sexy and they make it clear to the world that they know who they are and they’re uninterested in changing their core.

While we always advocate for staying close to the core of your brand, the truth of the matter is that if your company dies, so does the brand. (Disclaimer: for some companies digging your heels in can work, but when going that route business owners have to understand that they will likely alienate a large part of their existing base.) We think that VS is too large to lose the majority of their following. They also have an out. The L brands. VS also owns Pink and Bath & Body Works, neither of which have massive image issues like their powerhouse company. Victoria Secret executives could come out publicly saying they want to take a page out of the playbook of the other brands and better appeal to the masses. They’d have to be genuine and fully committed to a top-down restructuring, but at this point it may be the only way to save the brand.

We’ll be keeping our eye on the company and when they start making moves, you’ll be the first to hear our opinions. Until then, we’ll be working on our catwalk.