What Is A Brand? Is Netflix A Brand?

Mitch JoelPosted by

What is the brand of Netflix?

If you look at their boilerplate, this is how Netflix describes itself:

“Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 139 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.”

Of course, a brand is much more than the marketing copy at the end of a press release, but it’s a good start, in terms of understanding how a brand describes itself succinctly for public consumption. Those first sentences are the brand’s positioning. It’s also fair to say that Netflix has been a leader in digital content since it started in 1997. It’s also fair to say that Netflix had a vision for how video content would be consumed (streaming) and was patiently waiting for the technology to catch up to their vision. Who could have imagined a world where consumers are much happier paying a monthly fee to access an entire video content library for the price they used to pay for a single movie? Even as Netflix increases their monthly subscription fee, it’s still significantly cheaper than going to the movies just once. The way that Netflix blends movies, TV shows, specials and more into an endless scroll of content, also positions them uniquely against the more traditional television broadcasting companies and movie producers of the world. If their business is not working, it’s doubtful that companies like Disney would be pushing as hard as they are to release their own streaming platform.

In short, the Netflix brand has changed the very face of content and how consumers get entertained and informed.

And they want to keep going. According to their investor relation’s page: “Over the following decades, internet entertainment will replace linear TV, and we hope to keep leading by offering an amazing entertainment experience.” In short, Netflix is a business that has not only changed how consumers view content (binge much?), how they pay for it (monthly subscription model), how it is created (they are investing billions of dollars into everything from movies and new series to specials and beyond) and how it is distributed (streaming is still a fairly new technology, when you think about it). Beyond that, how do consumers feel about Netflix? Ever heard of the saying, “Netflix and chill”? I would argue that Netflix may very well have one of the most powerful brands in the entertainment space, if not the entire world. 

Maybe Netflix isn’t a brand?

Wait what? Byers Market is the media and tech newsletter from NBC NewsDylan Byers. Last week, Byers interviewed Bob Greenblatt who is the newly appointed chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment. The company (formerly Time Warner) is now owned by AT&T and houses brands like HBO, CNN and much more. In their conversation, this is what Greenblatt said of Netflix:

“Netflix doesn’t have a brand. It’s just a place you go to get anything — it’s like Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s a great business model when you’re trying to reach as many people on the planet as you can.”

So then, the Encyclopedia Britannica is also not a brand? For someone as high up in the media world as Bob Greenblatt, this is a head-shaker. Isn’t WarnerMedia the same kind of brand? Isn’t it a place when people can go to watch anything with the goal of trying to reach as many people as possible? Huh? I’d argue that Netflix is more of a brand than almost any media company in the world. I’d argue that Netflix is more of a brand than almost any other company in the world. 

Don’t believe me?

Close your eyes and think of Netflix. Now, close your eyes and think of WarnerMedia. Now think about HBO. How do you feel? What values can you align to Netflix? Positive and negative ones? If you asked the person next to you to do the same exercise, would you have similar ways of expressing how your feel about Netflix (I’m thinking that you will)? A brand isn’t just the company logo, the products, the service, the customer service, the advertising or how consumers shop the brand. It’s all of that, everything else and ultimately the curated emotions and reasons that people either buy into your company or disinterest themselves of it. Netflix has a culture. Netflix has a brand. They are both powerful. Don’t let the competition tell you otherwise… especially if it’s in their vested interest to dissolve the enormity of it.

Of course Netflix is a brand. Of course your company has a brand. The real question is this: are you living the brand (and living up to it)?