Does the single-letter-brand spell the future?

05.07.16

Adin Heller

Senior Research Executive, New York

Categories Blog Comment

Netflix follows in the steps of other brands like f (facebook), t (Tumblr), G (Google), S (Slack), P (Pinterest), and even PP (PayPal) who have all proudly shed their ‘full’ name.

Netflix has already cemented its place in cultural history, as evidenced by the phrase (and related meme) ‘Netflix and chill.’

But this cultural recognition doesn’t say nearly as much about the brand’s significance as its recent play to be represented by just one letter: N.

Netflix N

Netflix follows in the steps of other brands like f (facebook), t (Tumblr), G (Google), S (Slack), P (Pinterest), and even PP (PayPal) who have all proudly shed their ‘full’ name.

AppBCs

Of course, the need to be represented by only one letter is arguably App driven. With each brand only allocated a small amount of real estate on users’ screens. Indeed, one of the reasons Netflix is moving to the ‘N’ icon was that spelling out Netflix within the confines of an App icon was not really legible – and also not as clean or aesthetically pleasing.

But whilst there are clear ‘functional’ reasons for the rise in the single letter brand – there is also a distinct design challenge at play too, as brands need to maximize their personality within the confines of a tiny square.

Netflix has risen to this challenge by imbuing their ‘N’ with rich and multiple meanings. As others have pointed out, the ‘N’ references the original Netflix logo with it’s curved bottom, whilst its red ribbon-like form is indicative of everything from a red carpet, to a strip of celluloid, to an abstract representation of the streaming data that beams Netflix’s content to your device.

netflix_desktop

In this digital era, it seems designing a bespoke brand icon for Apps is a savvy move. Indeed, in taking the time to express an identity via a single-letter mark, brands can create a meaningful visual shorthand that will undoubtedly prove a valuable addition to their brand toolbox for years to come.