Throughout modern history, countless great brands have come and gone, simply lost in the labyrinth of attempting to create a sustainable brand. What caused them to fail? What sets great brands apart? In this blogpost I will touch on a very important and valuable aspect of brand management that is part of the answer that so many brand owners have asked, and will ask – where have we gone wrong, and how do we rectify this? Building and managing a truly successful brand starts with creating a valuable and focused brand identity, and for the purpose if this post we will focus on the visual and verbal language of brand identity.
A brand identity system is made up of many different components that all influence each other and fit together like a puzzle. These components, which include brand vision, brand purpose and positioning, brand values and personality, and our focus for today – visual and verbal language, must be clear and consistent.
Visual and verbal brand language then can be broken up into 3 parts: brand tone of voice, brand symbols and the brand story and I will be focusing on the Netflix brand to illustrate the point.
The brand tone of voice can also be thought of as the personification of the brand. If Netflix was a person, who would it be? What would its values be? How does Netflix express its personality? The Netflix tone of voice is funny, casual, relaxed and relatable. Like watching TV with an old friend. I can imagine Netflix as a casually dressed, funny 20-something guy with a love for cutting edge technology and quality, albeit risque, entertainment. This is very evident in their social media presence (check out their Twitter feed here) where they poke fun at themselves and at characters in their shows, but also proudly displays their platform. Their brand tone of voice is a fine line between between professional and funny and can easily be a disaster, but through clear content strategy and implementation Netflix makes it work and differentiates themselves.
The aim of brand symbols is to be easily recognizable and unique. It should clearly communicate the brand, its values, its purpose and its vision. Netflix uses strong red, black and white colors with just the brand name as the logo, all uppercase and very identifiable. It stands out from the many other online streaming suppliers. They equally signify technology and entertainment as seen through how they optimally created the most user friendly way possible to categorize their insane amount of content and their design and layout is forward thinking and clean. Their straightforward and strong design elements mirrors their straightforward approach to content interfacing, even after the recent logo update.
A brand’s story should connect the stakeholders to it’s purpose, it should evoke emotion and be the driving force behind the brand’s purpose. Netflix went from being a relatively obscure American only online streaming service to one of the biggest must-have brands, both online and offline, of the past year. The latest batch of ‘Netflix Originals’, content produced exclusively by Netflix for Netflix, has outperformed many big budget productions and generated revenue by adding more curious subscribers who are hungry for quality content. We are so overstimulated by horribly over-produced and scripted reality TV series that consumers now want something different, something more intellectually stimulating. Netflix positioned itself to become the answer, and became the epitome of quality, passion and originality that rival online streaming subscriptions simply cannot compete with currently. Their niche is the fact that Netflix feels like a passion project. It is real and raw and back to basics – interesting storytelling with believable actors. It really seems like the company employees themselves are their biggest customers, like everyone that works at Netflix also just want to spend a day on the couch, binge-watching a well-produced, high-quality series.
Video: Series, Movie, Series, Repeat | Netflix
The Netflix company strategy is focused on user growth and international expansion. By becoming the go-to service provider through creating their own quality content, creating a strong, consistent and trustworthy brand that consumers love (even having their own “Netflix and Chill” meme), the Netflix brand identity supports the company’s strategy very well. When creating your own brand identity, remember the example of Netflix. To really think about and be honest about what you want your company to be to your customers. Cater and customize the brand to their needs, not to your own.
In this post we touched on the visual and verbal language aspect of the brand identity system, its three elements: brand tone of voice, brand symbols and the brand story, and how important this is when creating a valuable and focused brand identity.
In the next post I will be taking a look at brand differentiation and brand positioning