Twitch brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Twitch Brand Strategy Analysis
Twitch
ABOUT

Category:
Media & entertainmentstreaming services, social media

Owner of the brand:
Amazon.com Inc.

Key competitors:
YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, TikTok

Brand essence

A live streaming service, enabling people to interact and make their own entertainment together.

Brand values

Togetherness, belonging, innovation, creativity.

Brand character

Fun, creative, edgy, pioneering, innovative, daring.

EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Twitch is a live video streaming platform, focusing on user-generated content related to playing video games. Its origins are interesting in that launching a service, specializing in video game live streaming, was not its founders’ intention. Twitch was set up as a spin-off of the company, known as Justin.tv. Justin.tv started in 2007 as a digital channel on which one of the founders, Justin Kan, broadcast his life in 24/7 mode from a head-mounted webcam. Later, the service evolved into a platform with a number of different live streaming channels, divided into various content categories. Since gaming was the fastest growing category, the founders made the decision in 2011 to create an offshoot from Justin.tv, dedicated to video game streaming and named it Twitch TV. Three years later, they closed the rest of the business and sold Twitch to Amazon.

2

Twitch operates in a freemium model. Users have free access to most Twitch functionalities but they can also subscribe to their favourite channels in exchange for ad-free viewing and Twitch digital content assets (e.g., subscriber badges and custom emoticons, called emotes). Additionally, users can support their favourite streamers by purchasing so-called Bits (which have a form of animated emoticons[1]) and using these in chat messages as a form of cheering. Twitch shares its subscription and Bits revenue with the content creators.
Other sources of Twitch’s revenue include advertising, sponsoring of TwitchCon (Twitch convention), branded content (e.g., branded streams), various brand activations (e.g., contests in which people can win Bits) and influencer marketing, should brands wish to collaborate directly with Twitch streamers.

3

The most important aspect of Twitch’s brand strategy is the sense of togetherness and community that the company is trying to build through marketing communication and product development (e.g., features enabling interactivity). Twitch sees itself as the place “where millions of people come together live every day to chat, interact and make their own entertainment together[2]. The company defines its positioning territory as “live entertainment”[3] and its core audience as people fluent in the language of the internet (18-34-year-olds represent 50% and 13-17-year-olds more than 20% of Twitch users)[4]. The brand’s guidelines describe Twitch’s tone of voice[5] (though the attributes seem to refer to the deeper philosophy of the brand) as mischievous (understood as good-natured fun and “lunatic creativity”), purposeful (being helpful and supportive), iterative (“work in progress” and “scrappy do-it-yourself spirit”) and revolutionary (“questioning the status quo in favour of making something better”). Twitch’s tone of voice has two scales – functional (“casual, neutral and firm”) and emotional (“reassuring, encouraging and celebratory”) for different types of communications. For example, the firm tone is used for policy updates, casual for social media posts and brand marketing materials, and celebratory for Twitch event announcements.

4

Originally, Twitch targeted the gaming community. Although most of the content on the platform today is still related to video game live streaming, the company is trying to widen its appeal to attract more users (both streamers and viewers), by expanding its live streaming functionality to other genres, such as music, sports, creativity, cooking and eating, wildlife, fitness and so called “IRL (in real life)” content. In 2019, to communicate those changes, Twitch underwent a refresh of its visual identity, combined with site redesign, and launched the campaign, “You’re already one of us”. “You’re already one of us” was intended as an invitation to Twitch non-users. Byron Phillipson, Global Executive Creative Director and Head of Brand at Twitch told the Hollywood Reporter: “We’re not leaving behind what Twitch is or was, we’re simply evolving how it’s perceived. (…) We’re opening up to say that this is more than just gaming”[6].

5

Amazon, the current owner of Twitch, does not endorse the Twitch brand in any way – Twitch has its own brand strategy and its own distinct branding. However, there are certain integrations at business strategy and product level. For example, Bits can only be bought via Amazon. Payments (and PayPal) and Amazon Prime subscribers have access to Twitch premium features (the service was called Twitch Prime but was renamed Prime Gaming in an attempt to move it closer to the Amazon Prime brand).

6

The Twitch brand is based on two archetypes. Its primary archetype is the Regular Guy as community and togetherness are the core themes of Twitch’s brand strategy (“You’re already one of us”). The secondary archetype is the Jester, as the brand has a fun and cheeky personality. With the brand’s positioning going beyond gaming, Twitch is, to some extent, also becoming a Creator brand, as it is increasingly trying to attract different types of creators (and not only gamers) to the platform.

7

Dominant colour – purple.

Tagline
Official brand statement:

Twitch is where millions of people come together live every day to chat, interact, and make their own entertainment together.[7]

Interesting facts:

Another company that was interested in acquiring Twitch before Amazon was Google. The deal did not come to fruition, reportedly due to potential antitrust concerns, related to Google’s existing ownership of YouTube. 

Must-reads

1. Marketing Dive on Twitch’s broader positioning
R. Williams, “Twitch Reaches Beyond Gaming And Connects With Viewers, Brands”, Marketing Dive, Feb 2021,
https://www.marketingdive.com/news/twitchs-broader-positioning-beyond-gaming-connects-with-viewers-brands/595139/ 

2. Marketing Dive on the backlash against Burger King’s guerilla campaign on Twitch
R. Williams, “Burger King Angers Twitch Streamers With Stunt Campaign”, Marketing Dive, Aug 2020,
https://www.marketingdive.com/news/burger-king-angers-twitch-streamers-with-stunt-campaign/584062/ 

3. The Hollywood Reporter on the “You’re already one of us” campaign
P. Shanley, “Twitch Launches First Ad Campaign Tied to Platform Redesign”, The Hollywood Reporter, Sep 2019,
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/twitch-launches-first-ad-campaign-tied-platform-redesign-1242590/ 

Sources:
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