Brand Positioning: Differentiating for the Right Audience

Fri, April 14, 2023 4:01 PM | Anonymous member

Brand positioning, along with segmentation and targeting, is crucial to successfully marketing a product or service. Three organizations performing this activity in their respective marketplaces include Sling TV, an American streaming service, Sephora, a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products, and Spiralyze, a conversion rate optimization marketing agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

This article analyzes the brand positioning via advertisements currently in market for each business and assesses whether their products or services are properly positioned. Results indicate that each organization’s advertising supports its brand positioning by integrating similar language, values, and concepts into text, images, and video. Target market segmentation types and sizes, hybrid positioning, and positioning caveats are also explored.

Brand positioning is a challenging but critical aspect of marketing any business. To be successful, every organization must:

  • understand that customers are different because they have different needs

  • be able to define their unique value proposition (USP)

  • direct advertising messages about their USP to targeted audiences interested in their products or services

Each of the three businesses analyzed has developed positioning that creates a perception of difference in the minds of their audiences. 

Brand Positioning: Choice and Control

In 2018, Sling TV launched campaigns positioning them as a flexible live streaming service providing more choice and control. One commercial on other streaming services such as Peacock (NBC) features Doris Burke, an American sports analyst, announcing that she watches sports on Sling TV “because they’ve got every [playoff] game…for the best price.”

This ad speaks to a segment of people who like watching basketball games on streaming services and are especially interested in the playoffs. This segment is likely to recognize Doris Burke and be comfortable with the ad’s format of a sports announcer with a microphone speaking directly into the camera. A booming male narration emphasizes “every game” and “best price,” accompanied by those words in all capital letters on a lightboard, another common experience for the sports enthusiast, and one that generates excitement for upcoming games.

This advertisement positions the brand well as it fits into the characterization of Sling TV as providing “choice and control;” customers can watch what they want, from the comfort of their homes, while spending the lowest amount of money possible. 

Two types of segmentation support this brand’s positioning. The first is psychographic, referring to user lifestyle including interests and activities – using streaming services and watching sports. The second is behavioral, which is the best basis for explaining customer behavior in the marketplace and really gets to the “why” behind customer behavior.” The ad reaches a streaming audience since it is placed on another streaming service, and the sports analyst, announcer, and lightboard further narrow the target to people who enjoy watching playoff basketball games and might be interested in paying another streaming service for access. 

Brand Positioning: Inclusive Prestige

Sephora’s mission is to “create a welcoming beauty shopping experience for all” while being “a leader in prestige omni-retail,” an interesting dovetail of aspiring to a high status without being exclusionary. The cover photo on Sephora’s Facebook page, which boasts 19.7 million followers, illustrates the mission by “championing all beauty” and proclaiming that “you are included.” The brand’s Facebook posts are also aligned with this positioning, using the second person “you” often and avoiding categorization of its products for any particular gender.

Sephora’s inclusionary advertising not only aligns with its positioning but strategically expands its demographic from the traditional one for cosmetics, cisgender women, to people of all genders, avoiding what is called the demographic trap of segmentation that is a risk when organizations combine too many variables and are unable to properly target segments. This is an invaluable opportunity in the red ocean of the beauty industry, which is crowded with categories, brands, and promotions at all pricing points; it fulfills a positioning caveat that positioning must set off the product/brand from the competitors since many beauty brands continue to feature only cisgender women in advertising. 

Brand Positioning: A/B Testing with a Price Guarantee

Spiralyze is a full-service advertising agency that specializes in A/B testing for software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. The value proposition on the home page of their website is simply stated as “30% more conversions.”  It is critical to link the benefits sought by the target market to the positioning strategy. Throughout its website and social media advertising, Spiralyze avoids the jargon often used in business-to-business (B2B) marketing by saying, for example, that the agency “gets visitors on your site to convert.” By focusing on one aspect of online advertising for a single industry, Spiralyze ensures that it is not trying to be all things to all people and creates just-right content aimed at a narrow target constituency.

The challenge is to ensure that enough of the total addressable market of SaaS businesses with a need for conversion rate optimization (CRO) find the agency’s services compelling, become customers, and drive agency revenue. CRO is not required to create or maintain a marketing program, and could be managed in-house, so Spiralyze’s service may be considered a luxury, not a necessity, by some prospects. 

On their website and in LinkedIn posts, Spiralyze supports their effective targeting and brand positioning with client testimonials. One LinkedIn post features a quote that “they have doubled my revenue”  from the CEO of another advertising agency; another, from a software company vice president, says they have “not only increased the conversion volume but the conversion quality” suggesting a value-added benefit and encouraging diffusion throughout the target market.  Also, Spiralyze’s pay-for-performance pricing model, in which customers “don’t pay a dime until after you see results” supports their positioning with a guarantee, a tactic that enables low perceived risk. 

All three of these companies support brand positioning by understanding the voice of the customer and using hybrid positioning: Selection and price for Sling TV, prestige and inclusion for Sephora, and performance and price for Spiralyze. This presents more challenges to competitors who want to enter the space and enables each business to evolve positioning as required by changes in their respective competitive markets. 

About the author: Rachaelle Lynn is the SEO Chair of Austin Women in Technology and has over 20 years' experience in digital marketing, with the last seven years in B2B tech. She currently manages SEO at SailPoint and holds certifications in Google Analytics and Conductor (SEO platform). Rachaelle frequently volunteers at AWT events and has presented at events like Apps We Love. Her special interests include cybersecurity and privacy in Artificial Intelligence. Rachaelle holds a bachelor's degree in Communications and is pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Her hobbies include talking to her two cats, visiting quirky museums, and listening to live music. Connect with Rachaelle via LinkedIn.   

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