If you subscribe to Netflix, you’re probably a movie lover who enjoys binging films on the cheap.
Netflix has employed the Gotham font for years; a simple, no-fuss typography that was designed in 2000 by Tobias Frere-Jones.
The font was used in the Aussie Labor Party’s 2016 federal election campaign and before that, in Obama’s 2008 presidential run. It’s also made appearances in Coke ads and has been the official font of Eurovision since 2013.
But licensing the font on Netflix’s scale costs the company millions of dollars every year.
So Netflix employed the help of renowned typeface designers Dalton Maag to develop its very own. The result is Netflix Sans.
Noah Nathan, one of the lead designers on the project, said, “With the global nature of Netflix’s business, font licensing can get quite expensive. Developing this typeface not only created an ownable and unique element for the brand’s aesthetic (moving Netflix away from Gotham, which is widely used in the entertainment industry), but saves the company millions of dollars a year as foundries move towards impression-based licensing for their typefaces in many digital advertising spaces”.
At first glance (to this amateur typeface admirer), there’s not a huge difference between what Netflix was using before and what Dalton Maag has created.
But the differences they do have will be huge to anyone who knows a thing or two about font.
For instance, there’s a nod to old Hollywood on the lowercase “t” with its “cinemascopic curve”. This cinemascopic theme also runs through the Netflix logo with its iconic arc.
Netflix has always been a trailblazer, so it comes as no surprise that other companies might also follow suit and launch their own fonts.
“If changes in copyright law mean that brands will need to pay for font licenses on an impression basis (as is the case in China), you’ll find a rush on typography studios as brands scramble to avoid licensing fees by creating their own typefaces,” she said.
Other companies with their own bespoke fonts include Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft.