Commonly, I fall asleep to Netflix. I don’t just nod off casually in front of a TV. I go to bed, plug in my iPhone, and set an episode to stream off of my wifi. Maybe it can count as the grown-up version of a bedtime story? Although, maybe not, because my favourite show to do this with was Babar (until it was taken off). Netflix is a part of my routine, and I love it.
Recently, I opened up the app to start an episode of Community, and... Netflix was gone. The Netflix I knew was gone. A rebrand had snatched away what I knew, and put a doppelgänger in its place. My first reaction was simply indignation that they had made this change in the night without me knowing. It is, after all, difficult to say goodbye to a familiar face.
Next, I approached it with design in mind. The new look is beautifully clean, and the logo is pretty much a simplified version of its predecessor. The red still stands prominent, but often not as the background colour. Instead, the Netflix logo stands red on a white or black background.
So why am I not impressed?
I don’t see the point of the rebrand.
Apparently, the original Netflix logo was not legible at a small size or from a great distance. I struggle to think of this as an issue. In whatever size and from whatever distance, Netflix was recognizable. The unapologetic red background spoke for miles, and was reminiscent of a theatre curtain. The mark itself had an identifiable shape, due mostly to the curvature exclusive to the bottom half. The curvature gives the logo presence through an illusionistic perspective. It is similar to a large movie theatre screen taking up so much of your vision that it almost curves around you. The white letters had weight from the bold black shadow. To me, it did not look clunky or outdated. It was uniquely theatrical, especially when compared to its competitors.
In its current iteration, the logo is somewhat cinematic, but only because of the elements they kept from the original like the curvature and the red. Even then, the red is not used in a meaningful manner, past maintaining some brand recognition. The letterforms are a technical improvement, but are flat. The combination of the red and the simple letterforms, as one blogger mentioned, has the aesthetic of the horror genre (the Dexter wordmark was given as an example). I don't find the logo special or unique anymore.
What once stood out is now lost in the crowd. This is the case on my iPhone screen. I can no longer immediately click on the app. I have to find it first. I don’t see much of an improvement here. What do you think? When is a rebrand a bad choice?
My pseudonym, oneredbox, is inspired by a rather ridiculous moment. During a visit to a certain Swedish furniture company, I purchased a shelving unit that is built to house accompanying cube-shaped baskets that fit flush to individual compartments. The various baskets are sold separately to satisfy differing tastes. The majority of the baskets are suitably neutral to immediately settle into the aesthetic of the room... except for the one magnificent choice that would clash expertly with the entirety of my living space: a translucent—but striking—red basket.
This basket was an attractive and demanding red that would not be ignored. I bought two neutral baskets, and adopted one red box.
As expected, the box does not fit in. Instead, it stands out in the most harmonious way. Every day, it is a tiny challenge to monotony. One red box may be a small deviance, but it is my reminder to never underestimate spontaneity. The wonderful and sensible can be great partners, and I strive to reflect so in my career by balancing creative impulsivity and structure.
Recently, I viewed a new PSA that’s been making the rounds on the internet. I’ll bring it to you in the same context I found it: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/uss-brutal-new-dont-text-and-drive-ad-will-leave-you-shaking-156828
This isn’t a revolutionary, or even a stand-out, scare tactic PSA. The sequence of events is predictable by now, and is sped through quickly to placate strained attention spans. As an additional note, the inclusion of a social media hashtag at the end somewhat baffles me, considering the intended message. Still, it brings up the question: are scare tactics in PSAs effective (especially for a younger audience)?
I am probably viewing this PSA outside of the intended context and my preparedness could have nulled the effect, but I have viewed similar PSAs with groups of people before. I have observed that most people respond in one of two ways: shock and a sense of fascination, or distress.
Young viewers recover quickly. Their steadfast ignorance to their own mortality guards them from fear and the teachable moment it intends to invoke. The sudden and often gruesome conclusion is simply surprising, and even grossly captivating as the moment is prolonged with graceful slow motion shots of forced deconstruction of bodies and vehicles. You can’t look away, and then... you can. Because you’re young. And that won’t happen to you.
Those who experience distress are usually older or have experienced a relatable situation, unlike the group I've described above.
The audience for this PSA appears to be teenagers and young adults: the immortal ones. So, why fight against a seemingly intrinsic trait of youth? I’m wondering if we can give something else a try.
Option 1: Take advantage of insecurities.
If we're willing to expose young viewers to such gruesome footage, I don't think preying on insecurities is out of the question. Appearances are a perpetual concern for teenagers and young adults, so let's point out just how stupid texting and driving looks. Aside from all morality, people look stupid aesthetically. Your chin is tucked back into your neck like a constipated turtle, your eyelids are lamely drooped over your downcast eyes, and you're crunched into an amateur contortionist pose from attempting to drive, text, and hide your failed and illegal multi-tasking. It's not a pretty picture.
Revealing the ugly truth might cause more people to hesitate and comprehend the dumb choice to text and drive.
Option 2: Bring back the essence of driving.
Driving is awesome. Getting your licence for the first time is like being granted freedom. It's a rite of passage. Then, somewhere along the way, we forget the sexiness and pleasure of having control over this huge metal machine that grants us the power to go anywhere. Driving turns into a mundane convenience.
I think we should reinvigorate that passion for driving. The second you step into your vehicle, you are given a free pass to escape all hassle and mediocrity. Picking up your phone is illegal, so you don't have to answer late-in-the-day work emails, calls from your cloying mother, or incessant texts from your ex. You can, to steal from the aforementioned video, just drive.
Option 3: Engineer responsibility.
Instead of making PSAs, the responsibility to have two hands on the wheel could be incorporated into a vehicle's design. Considering the rampant and often useless incorporation of sensor technology (I'm looking at you, public washroom toilets and paper towel dispensaries), can't we experiment with steering wheels that require two-hand functionality? There would be hurdles like accounting for driving maneuvers and complaints from angry long-haul truck drivers, but that could be worked through. Technology is smart enough to allow for a second-long reach to bump the turn signal, and complaints could be ignored unless they come from a place deeper than preference. Consequences for non-compliance would have to be sorted out as well, whether that is through forfeiting money to an automated ticket or an auto-pilot override that pulls you over.
Maybe this concept is impossible, or infeasible at the least. Maybe it puts into perspective just how easy it is to just put down your phone and drive responsibly.
These ideas all came up in the span of one conversation. They aren't perfect or thought through completely, but they're something different. I think the seriousness of this issue is owed more than the recycled scare-tactic PSA template. What do you think?
All the best,
EDIT: There's an Option 4!
Option 4: Let an app control your life.
Normally, I get quite agitated by apps controlling my actions. A phone shouldn't tell me when to exercise, for example. In this case, let an app help you out. Quite a few apps are out now that disable the text and call functions on your phone using various methods. Try it out!