Gotham given the flick
Netflix has revealed a new custom typeface, subtly inspired by its logo, that it will use for its marketing communications and user interfaces going forward. Netflix Sans was developed by the company’s in-house design team in partnership with type foundry Dalton Maag (whose previous clients include the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, USA TODAY, and Better Homes and Gardens). The move brings Netflix in line with other massive tech companies which have their own custom typefaces, including Apple (San Francisco), Google (Roboto, Product Sans) and Samsung (Samsung Sans, SamsungOne).
Netflix had previously been using Gotham for its branding efforts, but according to Netflix brand design lead, Noah Nathan, the decision to move away from Gotham and commission a custom typeface was driven by two factors: the escalating costs of licensing Gotham for all of Netflix’s international marketing campaigns, and the desire to make the Netflix identity more “ownable”.
Nathan says the following about the typeface on his website:
The unique characteristics of the typeface were chosen very carefully as it is meant to serve both display and functional purposes. The clean and neutral lines give without taking, favoring art over distraction, and eliminating excess. The arched cut on the lowercase “t” is discreetly inspired by the cinemascopic curve that is so iconic to the brand’s wordmark and symbol.
Netflix Sans comes in different weights including regular, light, thin, medium, bold and black.
My thoughts on the typeface? Well it looks suspiciously similar to, and as sterile as, San Francisco, or Helvetica, or any other neo-grotesque sans-serif. While the subtle curves are meant to be a point of difference, you can barely register them at even a moderate size. It would have been nice to see something with a bit more flavour. Is Netflix Sans truly ownable? Perhaps in the legal sense, but visually, I don’t think so.