In some of Netflix’s recent promotional material, a new logo has been gracing computer screens around the country.
It carries the same general shape, a rounded bottom with a more flat top. But the differences follow the ever more popular trend of minimalist design that is dominating internet companies around the World Wide Web. But I’m going to use Netflix to describe the reasons that this might not always be the best strategy, and why Netflix’s possible rebranding might tell us more about why it’s important to sometimes say no to trends than it is to always follow them.
Also Explore: Why Are Most Logo Redesign Efforts going Bust?
The most popular and well-used logo simplifications in the world have been done in the name of shrugging off the silliness and goofiness of a different time. They’re aging and reshaping themselves in order to avoid a deficit of being taken seriously. This has gone well (or not so well), but mostly it is attempted by companies who have established themselves as household names.
Netflix has only been around since 2007. Their logo was known best before then by those who saw it on their red envelopes. The company is not universal or ubiquitous. Which is why the simplification seems… overzealous or at least premature.
Let’s examine the mechanics of the change a little more closely to see what I’m talking about.
Flat Design-Was it necessary to go flat?
The flattening here is happening in two ways, the removal of boldness on the surface of the letters and the removal of the extrusions behind. From a purely visceral standpoint, this effect seems to make the logo actually seem younger. The older version of the Netflix logo owes itself to the bombastic flair of older film logos, like this Warner Bros Classic:
The extrusions in this case added authenticity and age to a new company, fresh out of the gate. It was a daring move for a burgeoning video service, but it served to be incredibly effective. Vintage hadn’t caught on as a trend in Internet logo design, and it set itself apart while remaining true to its purpose as a company indebted to film.
This is what Netflix abandons with the new style of logo, in a sense dumping their image in the fountain of youth.But what we’ve just explored about Netflix’s history tells us that it doesn’t need to do this. It’s not old. Netflix creates a problem it does not have by externalizing brand insecurity, aging themselves by running a more streamlined generic logo alongside their original one. It’s not necessary, and it isn’t helpful. This is the weakness of using a trend because it’s popular and not because it’s an improvement for your company. The desired effect, be it becoming more grown up or becoming younger in image, seems to fall completely flat here.
To compete or not to compete?
Netflix has reason to believe that it is a powerhouse in the streaming content world. But it should not assume that it has the staying power to make itself look more like its competition without a good reason:
Everything from the font to the arc calls into mind the similarities between these two. Netflix took a surprisingly distinguished film-history take on their logo and turned it into Red Box with a different font, ruining not only their individualism as a company but their sense of established authenticity. They have the power to rest on their own merits in an Internet age, but they don’t need to prove that to their customers by following the minimalist trend. Not to mention that no one does themselves any favors by stylistically allying themselves with Blockbuster:
What’s the purpose of rebranding?
Minimalism is one of the trends in logo design that is used for a purpose. The blankness allows for the expression of very large companies and for their logos to be used in different ways. It alters the message in a way that evolves the image of the company, in most cases makes it more grown up. But Netflix, in what currently seems like an attempt to jump on the bandwagon, creates problems that it wouldn’t originally have needed to solve. If Netflix wants to change its brand through a logo change, it should do so in a way that is more mindful of its current image and the power that logo has. Needlessly making themselves harder to distinguish from their competition in an attempt to appeal more to the internet age would be a mistake.
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