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Netflix's New Logo Is A Masterpiece Of Ambiguity

What does the red ribbon mean? Everything, if you want it to.

Netflix's New Logo Is A Masterpiece Of Ambiguity

Netflix has a new logo. The old wordmark isn’t going anywhere, but this week, the streaming film and television service introduced a solitary "N"—what you might call a lettermark, or in this day and age, an app logo.

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 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.

The other notable point is just how adult this lettermark looks. If we were to rate each of Netflix's logos like the MPAA, the original Netflix would be PG, the update, released last fall, would be PG-13, and the lettermark—the sharp lines, the shadows—would verge hard into R territory.

I can’t help but wonder if Netflix’s own big data—which has been well-documented to drive everything from the design of Netflix’s thumbnails to the development of its Originals shows—may have informed some of this new N-mark. When I look at the mark, I see Daredevil’s older brother, or a bit of influence from the unapologetic Marvel brand (from which Netflix has licensed multiple other properties). Maybe Netflix looked at which of its logos users click the most or which ones slow down users the least while scrolling through their feed, then incorporated some of those aspects. Netflix declined to comment for this article beyond acknowledging that it had released a new branding element. Whatever the story, Netflix has clearly thought about how its brand lives beyond our TV and laptop screens. This is a bit of branding worth rolling out the red carpet for.

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