I love Netflix. Love it so much that I cut the proverbial cord from the relentless grasp of cable
When Netflix took the leap into original programming, it gave me hope that perhaps the powers that be (Cable Companies) would have to react, not only to just some secondary online option, but because of the advent of smart TVs, Netflix might now be able to steady a path to being a viable competitor.
I’ve seen comics like Joe Rogan & Bill Burr (and many others I’ve left out) partner with Netflix to produce their comedy specials and from my end, everything was up to snuff. But the challenge of producing an original series is a bit more daunting mainly because the demographic you’d have to capture to raise eyebrows is likely already paying $100+ for cable (monthly) and/or may lack the interest in outfitting their current entertainment system with a Roku or Apple TV or whatever. Even setting up the installed apps (in the case of a smart TV) can be intimidating to a baby boomer. I sent my mom a Roku so she could watch House of Cards, and she sat on it for a month because she didn’t know how to set it up.
The setup process looks like this: Plug in outlet, Connect HDMI cable, Change TV input to HDMI. Done.
I’ve strayed from the topic at hand quite a bit. This is about Netflix’s growth and maturity into a content provider and respectable production studio. And as someone who pays most of my attention to branding and details, I noticed a bit of dissonance that I couldn’t look away from.
At the start of House of Cards (a show I think is in the same tier with Breaking Bad) there is a bumper with Netflix’s logo. It looks like this:
The problem I have here is Netflix’s logo is meant for something else; meant for an internet-based, movie rental service. It works for that tremendously, but for original programming – I’m not convinced.
If you take a look at AMC or HBO they’ve built their brands for their programming networks, which tend to be somewhat generic design tone that gains contextual emotion based on the programming. This is why AMC back in the day conjures up visions of old Clint Eastwood westerns and now you think Madmen and Breaking Bad. The thing is though, they went through a rebrand about 10 years ago to prepare for that wave of new programming and provide a new image for your feelings to associate branding.
Which leads me to this:
Netflix needs better brand representation for their original programming. The red box and pop-out letters are too playful and immature. They were developed to excite people about getting DVDs delivered to their homes. Then streaming came along. But now we have original content and I don’t like a brand who I know is a DVD rental company telling me they are a programming network, while still wearing their DVD rental t-shirt uniform.
I don’t believe the change should be drastic. I’d like to see more mature and less playful. That red box was likely not intended to be part of a production credit bumper – which is why you see they’ve used a bunch of gradient, shadow and reflection to try to make it feel at home. Those are design parlor tricks – nothing more. You’re not fooling anyone and more importantly, you’re not opening up independent emotions towards your brand’s programming arm.
All that said, I made a few tweaks to get the conversation started and at least back up all this rambling, so that I’m not only just a critic, but a constructive critic at best.
Method: I nixed the drop text and added the stroke to pad the word ‘Originals’ which they seem to be using to describe their original programming.
To give you another visual of the before and after, take a look at the brand alignment below using the House of Cards example:
What are your thoughts?