In defense of Netflix, (potential) experience brand

Jack Blog

October 26th, 2011 By Jack Morton

I’m not one to pile on, so this will not be yet another Netflix screed. The chorus of people saying “Netflix can’t do anything right” is already big enough (just a bit bigger than the one that used to say they couldn’t do anything wrong).

Netflix still has a lot going for it as a brand and as a business. That’s not to underestimate the challenges, for example, matching the quality of available on-demand content with that of its DVD business. But even after the well-known errors of recent months—to which CEO Reed Hastings owned up in a New York Times Magazine interview—there’s a lot build on:

#1: It’s an experience brand

Netflix is at heart an experience brand: what was great before it wasn’t was how carefully they seemed to have thought through the ways people interact with and consume their service, and how consistently they extended and innovated their experience. Every touchpoint felt like it delivered on a core brand promise. I’d argue that Netflix has a really strong platform to build from, and that by applying more disciplined experience brand thinking, they’ll recover their momentum.

#2: People feel passionately about the brand

Remember when you got to watch every episode of West Wing season 2 just when you wanted because of your Netflix subscription? Or when your son hooked up your Wii so you could watch Netflix on demand and your life was changed forever? I do. I also know my colleague Leesa is very proud of having been a Netflix subscriber from the beginning. Even after 800,000 people canceled their subscriptions, Netflix still has 23 million subscribers—and most of them, I’d argue, want it to be successful. As a company, Netflix doesn’t seem too interested in traditional marketing, but I’d recommend some nontraditional investment in their creating experiences to show their customers some love. It could tap into the passion people feel for the brand and fix some of the bad optics of their regrettable emails of late.

#3: Even weakened, Netflix still offers a better experience than the competition

The stock is declining even as I write. It’s lost two thirds of its value in three months. But really people, show me a better experience.