This week, Netflix announced its new, custom-designed font, Netflix Sans, which will be used across its preview thumbnails and genre headers from now on — and will save the streaming company millions of dollars a year.
It seems Netflix is hellbent on having original everything ( they announced an $8B budget for original content last year). But, unlike Stranger Things or Orange is the New Black, Netflix Sans is far from an imaginative piece of art.
Fonts — handwriting for computers
Fonts don’t just exist, they’re designed, which means that when companies use them in logos, on their websites, or on their marketing materials, they’re required to pay for a license to use them.
Those licenses can cost millions over time, which is why tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google have opted to design their own for a one-time price closer to $50,000.
And all these tech companies seem to have an unspoken agreement
Because their “custom” fonts look nearly identical.
Take a look at the latest logos of Google, Airbnb, Spotify, and Pinterest, all of whom replaced their quirkier, original fonts for smooth and rounded sans-serif fonts that say: “We’re not in our Series C anymore.”
Copycating or stealing a font is illegal, but there are currently no standards in place to qualify a design as a new font. Which makes us wonder, where’s the line between sleek design and sheep design? As far as the tech world is concerned, as long as it’s slightly customized, it’s good to go.