The Art of the Comeback: What Victoria’s Secret and Nike Can Learn from Past Success Stories

The Art of the Comeback: What Victoria’s Secret and Nike Can Learn from Past Success Stories


When fashion trends change (and they usually do), brands struggle. Right now, two behemoths from the last quarter-century are dealing with just that. Shares in Victoria’s Secret are down nearly 50% since the beginning of 2023, while Nike’s shares are down more than 42% since ’22.


Both are vying for a comeback. The former leaning in part on the return of its controversial fashion show, the latter focusing on the Olympics and returning to its roots of cutting-edge footwear.


It got us thinking about brands that have reinvented themselves — not just surviving, but thriving. And what strategies made their comebacks possible? Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, LEGO, Domino’s and Marvel are five brands that hold the answers. 


Abercrombie & Fitch: Reconnecting With Your Audience


Abercrombie & Fitch knows better than any brand that an engaged audience is essential. Bogged down in moose iconography and over-sexualized imagery, the brand lost touch with its consumers and was voted America’s most hated retailer in 2016. To reconnect with its core audience and grow up with its customers—millennials who wore Abercrombie in high school but are now in their late 20s to early 40s—the brand overhauled its designs, marketing, retail locations, and commitment to inclusivity. As a result, the brand generated $4.03 billion in revenue during the twelve months ending in October 2023, with 10% year-over-year growth.


Apple: A Study in Leadership


Apple is a prime example of leadership failure — and resurrection. In the 90s, Apple faced bankruptcy following a series of ill-fated business decisions and major competition from IBM and Microsoft. In order to save the sinking ship, Apple brought back Steve Jobs as CEO, following the acquisition of his startup NeXT. This change in the C-suite brought energy and innovation — kicking off the introduction of the iMac, a focus on the development of software like iTunes and the App Store and eventually the iPhone. Now, according to Statista, Apple is one of the most valuable brands in the world.


LEGO: Returning to Your Roots


The phrase “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” rang true for Lego. Despite its iconic status, LEGO was once on the verge of bankruptcy. By 2003, company sales were down 30% year-on-year and it was $800 million in debt. Two years later, the company was losing a million dollars a day. Lego’s problem? It strayed too far from its core product: the Lego brick. By re-embracing the brick and ditching failing ventures, Lego reignited passionate fans. As the Guardian said in 2017, “The revival of Lego has been hailed as the greatest turnaround in corporate history, ousting Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand.”


Domino’s: Embrace the Need for Change


Change isn’t easy, but sometimes necessary. One brand that desperately needed change was Domino’s. In 2004, the brand had more than $943 million in debt. In 2010, its stock price was stuck at $8.76 per share. Their customers’ chief complaint — the quality of the pizza. Domino’s took these complaints to heart, revamping its pizza recipe and reintroducing it through what Leaders called, “the most ambitious and bold new marketing campaign in Domino’s history,” the Domino’s Pizza Turnaround. It delivered. Now, Domino’s is the second-largest pizza chain in the world with a share price over $500.


Marvel: Play to Your Strengths


Slow and steady wins the race. Marvel’s revitalization is a testament to strategic planning and patience. Twenty years ago, Marvel filed for bankruptcy and had a share price of just  96 cents. As comic book popularity waned, Marvel bet on its characters’ big-screen appeal, leading to licensing deals and later an acquisition by Disney. It took three years for Marvel to emerge from bankruptcy, and another decade to capture audiences with films like Iron Man and Captain America. Today, Marvel is a $54 billion entertainment juggernaut that has produced four out of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time. The lesson is clear: patience is a virtue. 


Every brand’s road toward success follows a different blueprint. But, every comeback centers on aligning core values, consumer and cultural trends and socio-economic shifts. We’re eager to see how Victoria’s Secret and Nike fare. 

Originally published in The Bulldog Reporter.


See our work.

Partner with us.

See our work.

Partner with us.