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Brand Focus: 4 Marketing Lessons We Learned From Netflix

Brand Focus: 4 Marketing Lessons We Learned From Netflix

Twenty years ago, Silicon Valley gave birth to another service that revolutionized our practices and gave us new obsessions. Netflix, the iconic streaming platform, forever changed how we consume movies and TV shows. In 1997, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, and business partner Mark Rudolph founded Netflix as an online DVD rental service. Two decades later, Netflix has emerged as the most subscribed online streaming channel and now serves an impressive 190 countries.   

So, how exactly did they get there? Disruptive innovation allowed Netflix to topple Blockbuster, but it takes more than bold ideas to build a beloved brand with global influence. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this colossal, binge-watching empire in the hope of gaining some insight. What makes the Netflix brand so compelling? What are they doing right? And what lessons can we learn from their success? Read on to find out.

1. Be original

For decades, Netflix has been creating incredible client experiences with low prices, unlimited content, and no ads. But with the debut of Netflix Originals, they officially took streaming to the next level. Netflix released their first original series, House of Cards, in 2013 and by 2016, the site had launched 600 hours in original programming and movies. And clearly, they are not planning to stop anytime soon. In fact, their 2017 budget for content creation is slated to rise from $5 billion to more than $6 billion.

Five years ago, Netflix couldn’t have predicted where House of Cards might take them, but at this rate, original content is securing Netflix’s future. Original content is not only less expensive than competing for TV rights, but also brilliant from a PR standpoint. This year’s record 93 Emmy Award nominations for Netflix are proof.

More than anything, people want quality content. Originals like “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” and “Master of None” are often the reasons subscribers join Netflix in the first place. Original content will always separate a brand from its competitor.

2. Engage other creatives

Another lesson that we can learn from Netflix Originals is to embrace collaboration. You might have an idea, but with a little help, that idea can be implemented in a more seamless and cost-efficient way.

Netflix has a wide range of new original content because they hire other creatives to produce that content for them. It costs more, but creates better revenue and brand awareness.

3. Localize your brand.

Netflix began winning the global market’s trust with local productions. With 17 local series currently in production, Netflix plans to grow this number from 70 to 100 series in the next couple years. By sponsoring foreign originals, Netflix is creating content that is both targeted and widely appealing.

Political thriller “Marseille,” for example, is the first European Netflix original series. The show was written and produced by French creators in the hope of winning over French and global audiences alike.

“The great thing is, if you can expand the audience from the country of origin, you can produce at a larger scale and make better programs,” remarked Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer. “Being able to find American lovers of ‘Marseille’ in the U.S. enables us to spend more in France making ‘Marseille.’”

No matter how big or small your business is, catering to local audiences boosts engagement and spreads positive feeling about a brand.

4. Be flexible, but stay true to your goals. 

“It’s not Netflix that’s making the changes,” Hastings told Business Insider in 2016. “It’s the Internet. We’re figuring out every year how to use the Internet to make a great consumer experience. Every year is an experiment.”

To establish itself as a dynamic brand in a rapidly changing industry, Netflix had to be willing to experiment. Making the customer’s desires their top priority, Netflix introduced a personalized movie recommendation system in 2000, online streaming for personal computers in 2007, and their first original series in 2013.

Moving away from the DVD rental by mail business model is what allowed Netflix to evolve into the online streaming behemoth and Emmy Award-winning TV powerhouse it is today. Some analysts believe Netflix is headed for an inevitable fall as rivals advance and original programming becomes more expensive to produce. But year after year, Netflix has proven its flexibility with careful adjustments and additions to their brand strategy. That adaptability is what keeps the brand growing. And what keeps us coming back for more.