Exactly 10 years ago, Netflix, the world’s largest online movie rental service, inaugurated a new feature on its website, movie banner ads. A decade later, we are about to take a closer look at one of the best series of the bunch, in order to help you find what you are looking for in designing banner ads.
“When I grow up, I wanna be just like you!”
I bet you told this to your parents, just as I did to mine, at one point in your childhood. Having a role model to look up to, especially when trying to make it in life is extremely important. And the rules of life usually apply in business as well, no matter the domain. Having said that, you don’t want to copy, but learn from the best and steal as much as possible from them.
So here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned from some of the best Netflix original series that you can find inspiration in, when designing banner ads.
Now take a piece of paper and a pen. It’s about to get good!
Sing it out loud!
Think about it for just a second. Who would you rather choose? Somebody that goes door to door bragging about how good he is, or the “someone” that everybody talks about. Especially if the people who are recommending you that service, are trustworthy, like a family member, a friend or a very respectable institution or magazine.
Now, apply this to Netflix’s best series, or to anything in your life. If you see two ice cream shops side by side, that both look appealing, I bet you will choose the one where people are staying in line for.
Some Netflix shows plead their case through others. If they already won a certain prize or somebody said great things about them, they use it to their advantage. The greatest praise shouldn’t come from you. When talking about Netflix, we a are talking big. Over 4 million subscribers, 60.00 DVD titles and $6.78 billion in revenues. And they still don’t brag about it. This should tell you something.
Let the others speak for you! Let’s just say, whenever New York Times happens to say that you are the best comedy of the year, or The Hollywood Reporter admits that your cast doesn’t have any weak links, you should probably want to include that in your promotion. Just sayin’!
Trick or Treat
Trying to captivate the attention of people in order to watch a TV series is like playing trick or treat. You go to their house, you knock on their door and then you ask them for a favor. The people who follow a certain series are actually doing the producer a favor. They are the main reason why a certain production is considered successful or not.
People can raise up or take down a production, one episode at a time.
Of course, TV series want to catch their public as much as possible in their cheese mouse trap from which there’s no way out. Didn’t we all discover a serial that got us so locked up that we spent days and nights watching episode after episode?
And don’t tell me it didn’t happen to you. You and I both know that’s a lie.
That’s the major reason why some producers use catchy phrases in their banners. And you should too. They are playing a mind’s game with their followers. They throw the bait and let the subconscious play its role. It’s like playing truth or dare. By the way, that’s a great word to include, “dare”. Whenever somebody dares me to do something that they consider to be impossible, it’s like my life is going to end if I didn’t prove them wrong. That’s exactly the catch top Netflix shows count on.
Creative banner ads are more than likely to base their message on a catchy line. The importance of a good copy will make itself clear as soon as the popularity of your web banner ad will grow effortless. This is what we call the snowball effect.
Casper – the friendly ghost
Did you ever found yourself watching a horror movie, entirely under the blanket with just your eyes barely popping out? You were terrified but still couldn’t stop watching. The next morning you probably told yourself that you’ll never do it again, but somehow you end up doing it over and over.
Netflix knows this pretty well and bases some of its banner designs and stories on the curiosity factor.
Banner ads can sometimes become predictable, but not in this case. Having a banner design that screams, literally, is a very good idea, especially when it’s in accordance with the plot of the series. These banner ads should be perceived like Casper, the cartoon character. Spooky and intriguing, stirring the curiosity without gliding into the other extreme, being creepy. Having said that, banner designs like these give you a little taste and wait for you to come back for the whole pie. We always say to ourselves, I’ll just have a square of chocolate, and then…there’s the row…and then, you eventually end up eating the whole bar. This type of banner ad works exactly the same. You see the promotional banner of the series, which makes you want to take a look at the trailer and you decide to give it a try, watching the first episode. Twenty cups of coffee and three sleepless nights later, you already watched the season finale. That’s what I call a successful banner.
[Tweet “Sustain your copy with an intriguing yet awake image.”]
The visual part of your creative banner ad should back up your text or your title/name brand. They should meet halfway and complement each other for a smooth and complete result.
It’s all about the bass
Bands, choirs, dance groups, plays and even fairy tales. Do you know what all of these things have in common? You’re right! The main character.
Each of these artistic acts revolves around the protagonist. The person who takes part in all the stages of the storyline.
Let’s do a quick test. Think of these bands for a brief minute: Aerosmith, AC/DC, Guns N Roses and tell me the first member of these groups that comes to your mind. See what I’m saying? In most cases, the answer was the name of the vocalist. That’s because we tend to associate the band with a specific person, and that is generally the vocalist. Some bands don’t even bother to get a different name. Did you ever think about the name of the band Jon Bon Jovi is performing in? Guess what? It’s Bon Jovi.
So why not take advantage of this? Some of the top Netflix shows use their main character in order to promote themselves.
Isn’t Scofield the reason why you watched Prison Break? Having the protagonist make an appearance on the banner design for a series will make it very easy for the public to recognize the program. After all, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when saying Ross & Rachel, besides lobsters? How about the advertising and media 2016 Webby Award Winner, Narcos? I bet the cocaine being blasted by bullets campaign literally blew your mind.
Having the protagonist appear on the banner ad design will make it more imposing and straightforward. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Moreover, this will make your banner more recognizable. Who doesn’t love a loud and clear creative ad banner?
Drew – Draw – Drawn
It’s not a grammar lecture, it’s a banner ad design lesson.
Cartoonization turned out to be pretty successful ever since TV shows came out. Netflix applies this technique for some of the today’s best-known series. This approach gives a call to the right side of our brain, the creative one. Because “logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”
Of course, it’s way easier to create a cartoonesque looking banner design type when what you are promoting is an animated series, like the first case. The real challenge comes when you try to make a realistic series type of banner more cartoonish. Netflix ads portray this characteristic in a unique way. You don’t have to go all the way and make every banner look like it’s a Cartoon Network comic.
Let’s put it like that. Less is more. Playing with colors and effects can be the key in designing a creative and original banner ad, while everything else should be left to the imagination.
Furculision – Contextualisation
Placing the spectator right in the middle of the action is always a good thing to do. A few of the top Netflix shows use this approach whenever contextualisation plays an important role in the series.
Remember how “Sex and the City” ads looked like? They never missed a chance to remind you that the action is taking place in New York. Never! Because that was a defining thing about that production.
Find whatever it is that makes you unique, and if it’s the context, use it without fear. Take a look at Orange is the New Black and tell me where do you think the action is taking place? Is it on a beach? Of course not! Bricks and orange uniforms are the instruments that make this banner ad so suggestive. How about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Do yellow cabs and skyscrapers tell you something?
Don’t get lost in the process! You shouldn’t tell the world that you are the best fruit salad in the world. First, take a look in the mirror and see what kind of fruit are you and what makes you different from all the other ones. Then tell them why should they choose you in a world full of apples and oranges? Find your strong defining points and show them to the world!
Stealing from next door
Creating a banner ad and coming up with an original concept can be difficult at times. The key in this process is to look around.
Most of the times, you’ll find inspiration in the most ordinary places or situations. Keep an eye for details everywhere you go. While shopping at the supermarket, going out with friends or even while going to the gym.
And if you don’t, inspiration might find you while watching your favorite series on Netflix.
If you ever find yourself in a banner design inspiration depression, don’t panic! Don’t just stand there, staring at a blank page, hoping for a miracle to happen. Never stop living! Do your everyday routine and pay attention. Newton’s apple will hit you eventually.
Just remember, inspiration is always just around the corner!