Avenging angels – Behind the rebirth of Victoria’s Secret | #BehindTheBrand

Published by

Victoria's Secret unveiled its brand refresh earlier this year in a desperate bid to keep administrators at bay...but as we delve deeper into a global downturn - which big retailer will be next to rebrand - and more importantly, will it survive the recession?

Rebrands are a dime a dozen, but a little mentioned and yet huge issue for any rebrand to take hold is the sheer amount of business content that needs to be updated and maintained from launch. 

Content is business currency - and the risk is it can be devalued by a rebrand. When outdated content is used, retailers will not only see a poor return on an expensive investment but could also face a reputation-damaging nightmare. For a brand like Victoria's Secret already in trouble, one wrong move could be its last.

An expert in the implications of content on brands is Peter Tuborgh, Head of Brand Partnerships at Templafy. We caught up with Peter this week for an analysis of the content intricacies of Victoria Secret's brand refresh, highlighting the business and reputational cost of getting it wrong - particularly during a downturn.


What was the reason for the brand refresh?

Mergers and divestitures, failing revenue, compromised reputations, and the allure of new markets can all drive businesses towards a rebrand. Victoria’s Secret has seemingly been in trouble for a while, as the brand failed to observe, adapt and change at the pace which their market demanded. In addition, the CEO’s questionable comments and behaviour in 2018 lead to the brand being “cancelled” while rivals took advantage.

Big changes were needed. A five-year comeback plan, or rebrand, was launched in 2020. But needless of all this change, the proof as they say is in the pudding and the accounts weren’t looking good last year with the company going into liquidation. Now, however, two years into the rebrand we’re seeing a new brand refresh to save it from administrators. Will it be enough?

How does a refresh differ from a rebrand?

A rebrand is an investment in a company’s future. Good rebrands are natural iterations, highlighting what your best customers and employees already know. Bad rebrands are blind leaps of faith. The rebrand moved Victoria’s Secret away from its anti-feminist past. The brand refresh needs to save its skin. And it might be working.

Describe the purpose of the brand and its target audience

Victoria’s Secret’s purpose has evolved since being “cancelled” in 2018. The following year small steps towards a rebrand began. Instead of supermodel “Angels” with impossible-to-match physiques, the underwear brand realised the value in using “real people” as models.

Not only about size, but the diversification of its models also expanded over the next two years so people of different colour, race, size and sexual orientation represented the brand. By 2021, this diversity push took the next step - inclusivity.

The brand introduced maternity bras and focusing on body positivity such as the introduction of curvy mannequins in-store. Today, the purpose and audience of the brand has changed. No longer a lingerie brand for size 0’s, it is an inclusive apparel brand for all.

What could be the biggest challenge rolling out this rebrand?


When poorly executed, rebrands can cost more than budgeted, take longer than expected, and drive less business impact than envisioned. This is often due to poor planning and a lack of company vision, resulting in failed launch strategies.

In modern businesses, an often-overlooked reason for poorly executed rebrands is underappreciating the role of content. Not understanding how big a job content plays in a rebrand will set anyone up for failure, let alone the business fighting against poor public opinion. Almost 7 out of 10 (69%) of full-time employees said that updating all of their company content would be one of the most challenging aspects of rebranding.

Updated branding needs to be rolled out seamlessly across Victoria’s Secret’s website, packaging, labels, ads, staff attire. The list goes on to also include content many don’t think about, such as business documents and email signatures. Got a headache yet? It’s no wonder that 39% of businesses put off a rebrand due to a lack of resources when they truly understand how vast and deep the content landscape is.

It doesn't matter how big or small your changes are, rolling it out seamlessly and compliantly is equal in complexity.

How can Victoria’s Secret overcome it?

Rebrands require success across many facets. For instance, if you are to rebrand attire and store fronts, partnerships with brand implementation experts like VIM Group, or BrandActive would be advisable.

When it comes to rebranding documents - the onslaught of content that contributes to brand success - it's essential to leverage technology. It falls on the business to prioritise finding a way to integrate all of the newly refreshed, rebranded assets into existing employee workflows.

For success to be possible, staying on brand needs to be easier than using outdated materials. This is where content enablement technology comes in.

How can technology help?

The only way to achieve a seamless rebrand of documents throughout the businesses is with content enablement. This technology can automate the distribution of rebranded content whilst also intelligently suggesting on-brand content employees may need.

Document generation tools that utilise content enablement tech can alleviate the admin pain often found within the document creation process. This is crucial because documents are the lifeblood of business - in a recent report, one in three workers said more than half  of their company’s annual revenue is directly connected to content.

If documents are not up to par with the latest brand assets it can be incredibly detrimental to business and devalue the entire endeavour of a rebrand.

What happens if the brand refresh doesn’t take off?

Getting branding right may be the only thing that can save the company. Without this, it doesn’t matter how many stores are closed, or how much money is invested in e-commerce.

Administrators are already on the horizon and two years into a five-year turnaround project, a failed refresh now could see the brand not making it to the end of that transition period.

To add to this struggle, we’re on the brink of another global recession, which often sees companies cut down on their creative teams and output. With a big rebranding project underway, this would be the wrong decision for Victoria’s Secret.

How does a brand refresh help during a downturn


A strong brand is essential to surviving a downturn. When consumers are pushed into a position where every penny really does count, only brands that can give a clear purpose for consumers to make that added purchase will succeed.

Anything deemed more than essential will require more thought pre-purchase from consumers, which means brands need to define and maintain a clear value proposition that connects with consumers more than their competitors.

Stop investing in your creative teams and you cannot succeed. Investing in a strategy that moves with the times, such as refreshing your brand strategy in line with changing consumer needs, is a great way to strengthen your brand. Especially one that has been struggling.

What would you do differently if you were in charge of rolling out the brand refresh?

Any approach needs to put the employee at its heart. It’s essential to understand that the employee, brand and customer experiences are all linked. If you want to drive an improved brand experience or customer experience, it starts with the employee.

Making the employee feel like an important part of the organisation that can act autonomously, empowered as a brand ambassador and customer advocate can be done with the right technology stack.

A technology-enabled, employee lead approach is the best way for any rebrand or refresh to be rolled out quickly, consistently, and made easy to transition to on a daily basis. Understanding the depth of a rebrand, from visuals and packaging to letterheads, contracts and even email signatures makes the difference between a refresh being accepted by workers versus it being a hassle.

Additionally, investments in design, purpose and roll-out planning are serious undertakings both financially and time-wise. Make sure you don’t compromise your investment by overlooking the mammoth exercise it is to get employees on brand.


More Inspiration



Ragged Edge and Wise change the world's money | #BehindTheBrand

Fintech brand Wise launched its rebrand in partnership with London-based branding agency Ragged Edge earlier this year. The identity is built from the single creative idea: The World’s Money, reflecting Wise’s vision to change the system,...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


#MemberSpotlight on Freelance Director & Cinematographer Louis English

How did you get into the industry? Movies played a big part in my childhood. I would have Disney marathons with my sister and watch the classics on TCM with my dad. As a kid it was a big deal to go to the cinema, so I never took the experience for...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


The Luxury Report: The State of the Industry in 2023 and Beyond

Every year, as Q4 draws to a close, we scan the luxury futurescape for up-and-coming markets and macro trends that we believe expose the crucial spaces top brands need to innovate within over the coming year and well into the PCE (post-COVID era). A...

Posted by: Matter Of Form
ad: Annual 2023 Submissions Now Open