Established in 1997, Netflix is the best thing to happen to entertainment consumption since the invention of the wireless television remote control. It’s also the world’s leading, on-demand streaming media service with over 69 million members in 50 countries and with a library worth more than 100 million hours of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and specials. Since 2013, with the launch of House of Cards, Netflix has become one of the best producers of original content with multiple hits and crowd-pleasers. (Watch Narcos!). With the recent expansion to more countries and growing notoriety, Netflix has introduced a global brand identity designed by New York, NY-based Gretel.
There are a lot more images in Gretel’s case study not shown below in case you need more and if you like Netflix, you know you always need more.
In April 2014, we reported on Netflix’s logo change so this post is not about the logo change but about the implementation of an identity on a global scale that finally brings to life the new logo. I was never a big fan of the old logo and was one of the few that liked the shadow-less version — the elegance of the identity work you will see below would not have been possible with the previous, “iconic” logo.
Netflix needed a brand through-line: a conceptual and visual thread to connect everything. Our challenge was to create something broad enough for a global brand but still unique and identifiable. To create something variable yet systematic and bulletproof. It had to be visually striking, adapt to any format, and hold up to interpretation by agencies and vendors around the globe.
Our solution: The Stack, a visual metaphor and an identity system in one. It implies both the infinite, ever-changing catalogue and the custom-curated selections that make up the core of the Netflix service.
The Stack is a visual metaphor and an identity system in one. It’s an endless, living catalogue of shows and movies. The stack implies two ideas at the heart of the service: selection and curation. Netflix is both catalogue and curator, calling forth and constantly updating selections custom-tailored to users.
As an identity it’s distinctive, clear, infinitely variable and easy-to-use. It can scale to any size and translate to any platform. It works in motion, print, digital and out-of-home. It’s just as effective in Times Square as in Powerpoint. It connects everything the brand touches, internally and externally, and the brand ‘volume’ can easily be turned up and down as needed.
The premise is fairly simple: it’s like a layered toilet paper roll where you can keep pulling and pulling on the source and out comes panels (“cards”) with show images, show information, or Netflix branding. It’s not like toilet paper at all though in the sense that this is super elegant, dynamic, and, in general, quite awesome. What’s impressive isn’t so much the originality of the execution — since it’s really just a bunch of Gotham and rectangles of crops of stuff — but the ability to establish a clear, heavily-branded visual language that translates both digitally and in print, both in motion and statically, that is bold, dynamic, and engaging. Of course, I’m not trying to play down the execution: everything from the type sizing to the logo crops to the balance of how much of each card to show to the smoothness of the animations is expertly done.
The “volume” image, when you see it, you think “Well, of course, that makes sense” but it’s the kind of insight and visualization that empowers the client (its internal brand team and other visual vendors) to understand that this is not just about repeating the logo in the same corner but that there is flexibility to the identity that can accommodate different goals while always stating Netflix-y.
One of the aspects I love the most about this redesign is the exaggerated cropping on the new logo and how it stays recognizable not so much because of the shape of the logo — in part, yes — but because of the association with the original programming imagery that has created an unbreakable link between Netflix and Frank Underwood, or Piper, or the Rayburns much like NBC had that link with Seinfeld or Friends. It shows the confidence Netflix has in both its identity and original programming.
Developing a global tagline that could resonate both in new and existing markets was a formidable challenge. It had to work if you know and love Netflix or if you’ve never heard of it before. In new markets it needed to pave the way, pique curiosity. In existing markets it had the added challenge of reinforcing Netflix’s current value in the hearts and minds of subscribers.
Our answer: See What’s Next.
A succinct tag that encapsulates Netflix’s mission and disposition. It also speaks to Netflix’s maverick, pioneering spirit. Connecting people to stories is Netflix’s core objective, and anticipation is at the very heart of storytelling. What will happen in the next moment, the next episode, the next season? Where will Netflix take us next? What will the next revolution in storytelling look like?
Not a lot of big thoughts about the tagline other than it fits perfectly. To me it plays really well to the binge-watching of TV shows where you can see exactly what happens next with the click of a button after every cliffhanger.
The brand guide gives partners all over the world a central hub for voice and style guidelines, examples and digital assets. It’s comprehensive, but succinct. The focus is on showing examples rather than running down the rules. Users can get a quick-view at a glance or drill deeper for specifics.
Gretel has even made the guidelines and vendor brand central exciting and interesting. Heck, they even make Gotham feel relevant and new again. This whole project is smart, elegant, and simple and it establishes Netflix as a powerhouse brand that has finally shed its red envelope image that tied it to what now seems like an ancient era and positions it as the brand to catch up to. One episode at a time.