Lessons from the New Netflix Logo

Netflix made waves recently with the announcement of a new logo. The ever evolving company began refreshing their image last year with a modified version of their wordmark logo that ditched the kitschy, oversized drop shadow for a cleaner, crisper look. The new logo — a sharp, sophisticated lettermark — is the natural next step in this visual evolution.

new netflix logo

It’s a pretty boss logo, but more than that, it’s immensely strategic. As Mark Wilson writes:

Before this update, Netflix had been forced to cram all seven letters of its name onto social networks and the tiny icon of its iOS app. Its wide stance didn’t play in a box, and this full-word approach worked particularly poorly at small sizes. Replacing the word with one giant letter allows Netflix to compete better with everything else on your mobile screen.

The first thing you notice about that letter is that it isn’t the same “N” you’ll find in “Netflix” itself. It features a rounded bottom that gives a nod to the main logo, but letter itself pops from the page in 3-D. The letter is built from a single red ribbon, folded over itself with drop shadow.

What really strikes me is the success of this logo’s core visual metaphor. What is that ribbon? Is it a red carpet? Is it a celluloid film print? Is it the visualization of Netflix’s own stream, bouncing from them to servers to your own home? It could be all these things at once—not a bad metaphor for a company with astronomical ambition.

Companies can learn a lot from Netflix’s big win here. It’s not that their existing wordmark logo is bad or going anywhere. It’s that the company recognized that they might be able to boost brand recognition and portray a more digitally grown up image if they crafted a logo that was better suited for the avenues through which their audience engages them: the icon on their smart phone, the profile photo next to their Facebook status updates, the avatar next to their tweets. For Netflix, this meant boiling their wordmark logo down to a lettermark.

For those whose primary logo is already a lettermark, symbol, or emblem, such adaptation may not be of great concern. But for those whose primary logos are wordmarks or combination designs, going the Netflix route and finding a simpler design for use on appropriate platforms might be a smart play. In these cases, crowdsourcing design work can be invaluable.

It can be tempting to think that creative assistance isn’t needed to create such a simple derivation of your current logo, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, you could crop your logo down to a single letter, but that’s not going to achieve the same results as working with a creative to breathe life into a minimalist logo for web and mobile use. The Netflix lettermark, as Wilson points out, isn’t just the traditional “N” found on the Netflix wordmark. It’s entirely different while still feeling familiar, which is why it’s so striking.

And making something so simple remarkable? That’s hard work, especially for those close to their brand. That closeness can distort perspective, making it hard to envision anything beyond the familiar. As a result, in-house attempts to freshen or adapt a well-loved logo can sometimes yield flat creative that fails to rise to the occasion.

Crowdsourcing solves for all of that. With platforms like crowdSPRING, your needs are broadcast to an army of talented creatives itching to show you their best ideas. You have the opportunity to engage directly with designers to make sure the final product has that wow factor. And the best part? You don’t need a Netflix-sized budget to do it.