Another unnecessary ‘update’ or a exercise in clever global rollout? Netflix: 44 million members in more than 40 countries enjoying more than 1 billion hours of TV shows and movies per month. So successful in fact that the phrase “Netflix and chill” has been adopted into the cannon as the verb du jour for “Do you want to come in for some coffee?”
Netflix has long suffered the plague of any incredibly successful global brand. In every region hundreds of ads, posters, billboards and trailers are produced by a host of disparate agencies every quarter. You’re familiar with the old ubiquitous Netflix logo. Est. 1997. Goodbye to its characteristic extrusions and bright red cherry pop logo. Hello flat, hello conformity, hello anonymity. Some argue it’s become so nuanced it risks losing any semblance of personality.
One enraged commenter suggests that from a purely static branding perspective the work is “extremely safe, boring and forgettable”. Its black and white extrusions in old Hollywood cinema-type 3D fashion have been muted considerably. But there’s a lot to be said for nuanced universal branding. Yet fans of the new design have hailed it as distinctive, clear, infinitely variable and easy to use.
According to Ryan Moore of Gretel creative agency, the rebrand was designed with an aim to “unify everything”. The move marks Netflix’s attempt to marry the slightly fractured branding efforts in the past, working with multiple partners and agencies around the world. If this sounds familiar you’ve probably read our blog post on Coca-Cola’s homogenising efforts to unify their (arguably already pretty unified) brand.
Moore elaborates. “What they needed was an idea to stitch everything together – a conceptual approach – but certainly a visual system all these agencies could look at and adapt to any format they needed to”.
So the idea is if you’re a graphic designer who’s just landed a job at Netflix. The visuals they’ll be creating should be on-brand. To facilitate the Gretel team has developed a simple, flexible card system called “the Stack:”
The 3 core components:
- Photograph of video/character
- Splash of colour (generously you have the option of red or white)
- Text of some description (movie title/ tagline)
If you’re struggling with this complex triptych-branding concept, consult the handy animation from the agency below.
And what about the global rollout? In their words: “Policing the brand globally isn’t logistically viable, and the act itself is counter to that central tenet.” The beauty of this branding concept is that volume in their words can be “dialled up or down” as needed.
Similar to the visual disparity of before, the writing, tone and language varied wildly across touch points. Netflix, with its wide range of varied content is constantly evolving. Gretl’s clever branding now makes sure its guidelines do so correspondingly as well.
The new minimalist branding might be more suited to a new channel format – which is what Netflix is arguably becoming. Moving away from the red envelopes in the post that would eventually make Blockbuster bust, and into the increasingly ludicrous realm of infinite budgets and high-intensity drama.