Koto has redeveloped Netflix’s approach to iconography, illustrations and typography, aiming to transform previously neglected touchpoints into “immediately cinematic” graphic assets.
Working collaboratively with Netflix’s in-house team, Koto sought to build on, rather than reinvent its visual identity. Koto’s chief creative officer and co-founder Jowey Roden says that the studio achieved this by spotlighting “what made Netflix special” and “what users already loved about them” more comprehensively through graphics.
Koto found that Netflix’s iconography, illustration and typography had not kept pace with other parts of the brand. They have now been reintroduced to show the effects and techniques of filmmaking.
Koto collaborated with Beginners animation studio illustrator Michael Lester and independent illustrator Gica Tam on the animated illustrations. Simulating the light from a TV screen in a dimly lit room, Roden says that they designed “warm, glow-like illustrations” to be used across the brand. This light-emitting illustrative style seeks to demonstrate how Netflix content can alter a setting “on an emotional level”, he adds.
Both the colour palette and the illustrations themselves references popular Netflix shows, nodding to “the unique content in the Netflix library”, Roden explains. One example would be the chess piece illustration, which was pulled from the Queen’s Gambit series.
For the format and execution of the iconography, Koto opted for a 16:9 ratio, which is “consciously associated with filmmaking and media devices at large”, combining well with the cinemascope in the Netflix logo, according to Roden. Since a 16:9 ratio is a less traditional format for iconography, Roden says the new designs created “something that Netflix could own”, setting it apart from competitors. The new iconography encompasses everything from volume symbols to 4K and HD descriptors.
With its extensive library of genres – from horror and thriller to romance and comedy – Netflix required a typographic system that can “appropriately bend itself” to fit each one, says Roden. He explains how Koto has implemented flexible typography “in a breadth of styles and weights”, which caters to the “incredibly broad range of tones” that viewers might encounter across the streaming service.
Moving forward, Netflix will use the set of graphic assets created by Koto to inspire future UI projects and designs for marketing communication.