Interbrand's Dutch research arm ranked Netflix as the 16th strongest media brand in 2015. By comparison, one of its largest competitors — YouTube — was placed at #8 and audio streaming service Spotify was ranked at #20.
Gibson Biddle joined Netflix as VP of Product Management in 2005. His role was key to forming Netflix's brand positioning today. For Biddle, Lean Branding author Laura Busche comes closest to an actionable definition of branding:
A brand is the unique story that consumers recall when they think of you.
Biddle's branding pyramid for Netflix looks like this:
Today, Netflix is the world’s leading streaming media service, serving over 65 million users in more than 50 countries worldwide and growing. One of the original innovators of streaming content, they’ve grown exponentially in the last five years. With a growing slate of original series, high-profile acquisitions and exploding user base they found they lacked a cohesive brand that could grow with them. So this year, they rebranded and refined Biddle's original positioning into something much stronger: See What's Next.
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.
The solution of Netflix's contracted agency — Gretel — was The Stack, described as “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 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. 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.
The adaptive imagery is, of course, accompanied with new messaging: See What's Next. The exaggerated cropping on the logo and the way it stays recognizable not so much because of the shape of the logo but because of the association with the original programming imagery creates an unbreakable link between Netflix and productions. The imagery strengthens the positioning by showing the confidence Netflix has in both its identity and original programming, and the messaging plays into the binge-watching culture where you can see exactly what happens next with the click of a button after every cliffhanger.