How Netflix Taps Into Font Psychology to Tell a Story and Find Its Audience


Netflix knows that its ever-expanding subscriber base is made up of countless personalities and preferences, and its library of original content reflects that. There are comedies, dramas, sci-fi epics, mysteries, and action romps all just a click away—but with so many different shows to choose from, these series need a unique look to hook an audience right from the main menu.

Whether you realize it or not, one of Netflix’s main tools to grab your attention is its choice of font. Just take a look through Netflix’s original programming menu and you’ll see dozens of different fonts used for their shows, each one designed to give you a specific feel that’s consistent with the series's tone.

Sara McGuire, editor for the data visualization website Venngage, broke down the streaming giant’s use of eclectic fonts and how they influence the psychology of a viewer as they browse through the menus. She first listed the four categories of fonts: Decorative (quirky, fun); Headline (bold, dramatic); Modern (forward-thinking, efficient); and Handwritten (personal, playful). Then she explained that a font could either be Serif or Sans Serif style—the former utilizes embellishments on the end of letters while the latter is more minimalist and less formal.

McGuire says “design plays a big role in how we perceive the value of a product,” and that extends to how these fonts remain faithful to what you'll experience when watching each show. 

The Crown, for example, has a font that McGuire describes as a Headline with a Serif style, which gives it a “traditional and respectable” feel, much like the Royal Family itself. Meanwhile, Luke Cage has a decorative font, serving as a callback to the bold, in-your-face lettering found on a comic book cover. And if you watched the show, you’ll know the font’s granite lettering is a perfect fit for the bulletproof superhero from Harlem.

Then there are some that are a bit more obvious, like GLOW’s decorative neon font establishing an ‘80s setting, Altered Carbon’s futuristic lettering, or Ozark’s signature Z masquerading as a money sign. While these fonts do give a feel for the show, they're more upfront with the information they're looking to convey. 

To get a better sense of what McGuire is going for, try to imagine a series like Chef's Table or Master of None using the rigid font of The Crown or Medici: Masters of Florence. For people basing their opinion solely on the menu picture and font, they would likely have a completely different set of expectations for the series.

Along with posters, trailers, and all the other promotional material, fonts are just one tool Netflix uses to get its content noticed. As McGuire points out, the streaming giant has a firm understanding of a font’s power and its ability to give people a feel for a new series. Next time you're browsing Netflix's selection, take an extra moment to examine the fonts used for each option—it might help you find your next favorite show.

Jason Momoa is Glad Game of Thrones's Khal Drogo Only Lasted One Season

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Although Jason Momoa had a pretty minor role in the grand scheme of Westerosi things in Game of Thrones, fans of his character Khal Drogo will attest to him being an extremely important part of the series—particularly in how he helped to shape the character of Daenerys Targaryen. But the actor, who is currently starring in Aquaman, is happy his time on the series ended when it did.

Drogo met his untimely demise in Season 1, and Momoa has no regrets about it. “I’m actually really, really happy with how it all turned out because, you know, you just can’t keep that character alive,” Momoa told the New York Daily News. “Even when I watch it, it just wouldn’t fit. Khaleesi [Daenerys] … I feel like she inherits that strength and she has to be by herself and do it that way."

Momoa also commented on how popular a character Drogo still is, adding, “Even now, people just can’t stop ... they love Khal Drogo. It’s unbelievable. Like, one season. I don’t know any other character that’s done one season out of eight or nine that people just go [wild]. I didn’t know it was going to be that big.”

Even though Momoa hasn’t been on the show for years, he’s still a huge fan of the series. “It’s the greatest show on Earth,” he stated, sharing that he and his wife Lisa Bonet are devoted fans.

There's a Prequel to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and It's Halloween-Themed

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Everyone knows that the Grinch didn't care much for Christmas, but how did he feel about Halloween? We just learned that he spent All Hallows' Eve terrorizing the fine citizens of Whoville, thanks to Insider, who spotted this lesser-known prequel to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Titled Halloween is Grinch Night, the short animated movie ran as a television special in October 1977. Although it was designed to be a prequel to the classic Christmas special, Dr. Seuss wrote it 20 years after How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was published in 1957.

The TV special opens with the Whos of Whoville cheerfully going about their business … until they catch a whiff of the "sour sweet wind," which tips them off that the Grinch is coming to town. The word "Halloween" is actually never spoken in the movie; it's replaced by the term "Grinch Night" throughout. Instead of a sleigh, the Grinch descends on the town with a wagon full of monsters pulled by Max. And instead of Cindy-Lou Who coming to the town's rescue, it's a little boy named Euchariah who intervenes.

In addition to the Halloween prequel, another TV special called The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat aired in 1982. Although both of these specials won Emmy Awards, their impact wasn't as long-lasting as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was adapted into a live-action version starring Jim Carrey in 2000, and again in 2018 with a 3D animated version called The Grinch, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title character.

Check out the Halloween-themed prequel in the YouTube video below, or get all three specials on Amazon with the Dr. Seus’s's Holidays on the Loose ultimate edition DVD.

[h/t Insider]